Thoroughly enjoyable - tragic/comedy that is comparable to Abigail's Party, but with meaning and substance. See it!
Until Sat Apr 12
© Robert Day
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Mon Mar 17 2014
The North-South divide is a chasm in Torben Betts’s new play, which thrusts ineffectual ex-civil servant Oliver (Darren Strange) and his ferociously socialist partner Emily (Laura Howard) into the recession-hit reality of living outside London. After he loses his job, the couple move to a Northern town where she and her fine-sounding principles soon collide with the couple across the road.
The Ayckbourn overtones of Ellie Jones’s production are unmistakeable, as contemporary debates play out as an awkward living-room culture clash. When teetotallers Emily and Oliver invite their neighbours over, beer-swigging Alan (Daniel Copeland) rocks up with his wife, Dawn (Samantha Seager), and confuses Marx with the Marx Brothers.
The importance of what might be true versus what comforts people in hard times is one of the central questions here, as Emily – who likes the idea of community but doesn’t actually like people – lectures England-supporter Alan on the stupefying effects of watching football and buying into big business.
Betts confronts thorny contemporary issues head-on, reflecting on the freedom that money grants the middle-class Emily and Oliver to wreak havoc in their neighbours’ lives before buggering off, and the devastating patriotism of war as it affects Alan and Dawn, whose son is in the army. And a mix-up involving adultery and a missing cat is farcically funny.
But the shift from satire to farce to tragedy is sometimes grinding, while Emily’s unrelenting awfulness renders the play’s debate fundamentally lopsided. You’d rather agree with anyone but her. It’s an impressive Seager, as Dawn, who really sells the complicated gut-wrench of a life pinned to hope without prospects.