A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG
by Peter Nichols
Nottingham Playhouse to Saturday 3rd April 2010
Matinees Saturday 27th 2.30pm
Thursday 1st April 1.30pm
Audio described performances Saturday 27th 2.30 and Wednesday 31st March 7.45
Signed interpreted Friday 26th March 7.45pm
Captioned performance Friday 20th November 7.45
Runs 2hr 40min. One interval
TICKETS: 0115 9419419
Review: Jen Mitchell 23rd March 2010
A true tragicomedy that takes you in a single breath from helpless laughter into stunned silence.
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a snapshot of the lives of a married couple with a severely disabled daughter. All appears well on the surface. Bri, a teacher of the scruffy tweed jacket ilk, appears at the start addressing the audience as if addressing his class at school.
After giving us all a good dressing down he returns home, where his wife has fed all te pets and plumped the cushions in preparation for his return. Cheerful banter gives way to pointed comments, acerbic wit and hurtful accusations. All is not well.
Joe, their daughter, is subject to an ongoing narrative that takes place over her head, as her parents continue the dialogue they would be having with her if she able to speak. People find their own coping mechanisms and this couple have more than their fair share of them.
Bri hides his frustration, and anguish behind a cutting and black humour while Sheila puts her faith in God, and amateur dramatics, in spite of her husband’s cynicism. Both of them relive the events of Joe’s birth and early days in their own well-rehearsed sketches – which at times are terribly funny.
Bri (Mark Benton) and Sheila (Amy Robbins) are superb in these seamless duologues, ducking in and out of their various parts and even their own characters with consummate ease. The audience are never sure which parts are improvised or stumbled over, most would remain unaware that Nichols had written all of it in intentionally. Nichols establishes the actor/audience relationship and explores it fully throughout the piece.
Relationships with the audience are developed, as they are used at various times as friends, confidants and sounding boards.
In the second half, the level of discomfort and disapproval rises as the issues of euthanasia are explore – never referred to but defiantly explored. The arrival of friends Pam and Freddie bring tensions to a head. Freddie (Tim Dantay) adds another comic or even comical dimension to the play. With his well intentioned efforts to help, he only manages to bring all matters to a head and the situation has to change.
Peter Nichols’ important play may no longer have the same shock factor it used to have, but time has not lessened the importance of exploring those issues that we find make us most uncomfortable.
Bri: Mark Benton
Sheila: Amy Robbins
Joe: Finn Atkins
Pam: Sarah White
Freddie: Tim Dantay
Grace: Linda Broughton
Director: Matt Aston
Designer: Laura McEwen
Lighting Designer: James Farncombe
Sound Designer: Drew Baumohl