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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Jan 02, 2013 - 04:22 PM Archive
London.

A LIFE
by Hugh Leonard.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Cafť 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 27 October 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.


TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 October.

Scrupulous script and performances form an intense dramatic experience.

This is a Finborough miracle: the first British performance in 30 years of Hugh Leonardís drama, with all the quality of a major theatre company. Irelandís national theatre, the Abbey, premiered it in 1979 with Cyril Cusack and Dearbhla Molloy. A generation on, minimally staged with just a chair and table, director Eleanor Rhode has guided a fine cast into the souls of Leonardís characters.

Generations are the means of exploring the fate of marriage in a small Irish town. Two couples are seen in both maturity and youth. At the centre, Desmond Drummís failure as a writer is summed-up in his opening words for each act, ďTo concludeĒ. They are the words of older Drumm as tour guide, or young Desmond preparing a debating speech.

Contrastingly, his unprepared words are filled with pompous seriousness when a young, avid reader and disenchanted irony after years married to the non-intellectual Dolly. The contrast between themís shown in their first conversation, Judith Coke twittering happily, Hugh Ross showing his distaste for his life the moment he turns from his tourists, and fends off his wifeís cheeriness.

The spontaneity of conversational rhythms, the tiny jumps and misreadings between them, create the separation between their minds, performed with a detail that goes beyond technique to a sense of characters fully understood.

Itís this natural-seeming effortlessness that gives life to Leonardís interplay between past and present, man and woman, to taking a title which might be an airy nothing and giving it reality through a local habitation and a name.

Hugh Ross has an Irish accent best described as subliminal, but it keeps Drumm, just given his death sentence, apart, with all the weariness of someone never fitting into a community heís never been able to leave. Robert Lonsdale and Neil McCaul match the blithe innocence of ignorance across the generations, while Kate Binchy shows to what compromises glamorous youth can come.

Most movingly of all, Coke, with her wistfully admiring look at young Desmond, and Jenny Fennessy as her younger self, express the soul of simplicity and acceptance of life lived through daily details.


Drumm: Hugh Ross.
Dolly: Judith Coke.
Mary: Kate Binchy.
Mibs: Mary Mallen.
Desmond: David Walshe.
Lar: Robert Lonsdale.
Kearns: Neil McCaul.
Dorothy: Jenny Fennessy.

Director: Eleanor Rhode.
Designer: James Turner.
Lighting: Gary Bowman.
Sound/Composer: George Dennis.
Costume: Holly Rose Henshaw.
 
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