N.J. Crisp’s most famous play, which has been produced worldwide since its original debut, is now showing at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion during its current tour.
The action starts in the conservatory of the Driscoll’s house and the rest of the play proceeds to unfold in the same place. A continuous rolling scene throughout the entirety of the play makes for an interesting watch, making you feel as though you are a bit of fly on the wall observing these people’s lives.
The cast is made up of only three actors. It begins with Sally Driscoll, played by Angie Smith, who is pottering around her conservatory watering her plants. An instrumental version of Queen’s ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ plays on the radio alongside her and provides a warm yet eerie feeling to the opening of the play. The song choice becomes more fitting as the play goes on and clearly a clever choice made by director Karen Henson.
The play being set in one room the whole time, allows for a detailed and specific set. Attention to detail is appreciated and it was nice to be able to notice certain parts of it as the drama unfolded that hadn’t necessarily been apparent from the onset.
Smith’s character is not on stage for long before she is interrupted by John Barrett, played by Michael Sherwin. Sherwin and Smith are together on stage as a duo for rather a long time from the moment he enters. The uniqueness of their characters and the interaction they have starts off as an awkward one which gradually softens as we learn of their previous connection and their backstories. As vital as this section is to the play, it did at times seem to drag a little. Being a very dialogue heavy play, the arrival of Mark Driscoll, played by Mark Huckett was a very welcomed one and helped to extend the dynamic on stage and drive the story forward. Once all three characters were on stage together, it felt as though the pace picked up and therefore the general enjoyment of it too.
The three characters become more and more interesting as the scene continues, providing some twists in the action. The more we learn of the three of them, the more we want to know about past events and the reason for them being there together at that present moment. Sherwin’s eccentricity, Huckett’s quick wit and Smith’s sincerity fit together perfectly and certainly have you leaning towards each one at different times throughout.
The second act is where this thriller of a play really comes into its own. Not least because during the interval the audience has so many unanswered questions to ponder over. The general buzz around the place as people tried to piece parts of the first act together was exciting.
Expect more twists and some unexpected turns during the second act. A fast paced, quirky, dark, funny spectacle shows itself in the form of revelations and confessions. Gasps and sighs can be heard around the auditorium and just when you think you know the full story, something else is thrown into the mix.
Reviewer: Sara Starkey
Reviewed: 29th October 2019
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★