The Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company
The Rep – Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Arthur and George
Adapted for the stage by David Edgar
From the novel by Julian Barnes
Nottingham Playhouse to Saturday 8th May 2010
Matinee Saturday 1st May 2.30pm, Thursday 6th May 1.30pm
Audio-described Wednesday 5 May 7.45pm
BSL Signed Friday 7 May 7.45
Post-show talk Tuesday 4 May.
Runs 2hr 30min. One interval
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
Review: Jen Mitchell April.
Previously reviewed by Rod Dungate at its premier at Birmingham Rep, the production moves to Nottingham.
Conan Doyle turns sleuth in this new adaptation of Julian Barnes’ excellent novel, Arthur and George.
Unfolding as unassuming 1900s country solicitor George Edalji’s recounts his tale of injustice to Arthur Conan Doyle in a London hotel room, David Edgar’s play from Julian Barnes’ novel then sees Arthur attempting to bring justice and clear Edalji’s name.
It was a strange case – a myopic Black Country solicitor accused of slashing horses and sending malicious letters to local people, including his own family. Eventually, following Conan Doyle’s interventions, Edalji was cleared of animal-maiming though not the letters.
The play explores the divisions that existed in early 20th-century England. George, the son of a Scottish mother and Indian father, sees himself as a true Englishman and finds it impossible to understand why anybody else wouldn’t. But that’s not the view of the locals or the police.
Edgar opens with a brief glimpse of the two women closest to the title characters – a brief scene offering a glimpse into the psyche of both and the abyss between their characters.
Ruari Murchison’s set allows the free flow of the narrative – a circular rotating part of the centre of the stage means characters walk through from one scene into the next. A chasm in the rocks is lit up as an occasional back drop – the Great Orme and Little Orme in Llandudno, and the chasms existing in society. Projected onto the back of the stage, a wide-eyed horse up on its hind legs, neighing in fear whenever another horse has been mutilated.
All performances are strong. Adrian Lukis makes an excellent and complex Arthur Conan Doyle – well placed accent, boundless energy and drive and complete self belief. Woodie (William Beck) is the long-suffering assistant and a perfect foil to Conan Doyle. George (Chris Nayak) is portrayed as straightforward and bookish but not without a steely core and hidden determination to find out the truth. As Conan Doyle’s long standing ‘companion’ Jean, Kirsty Hoiles is suitably flirtatious, strong and independent.
Doorman/Campbell/Butler/Greatorex/Stoker: Richard Attlee.
Woodie: William Beck.
Upton/Vachell/Anson/Parker: Simon Coates.
Waiter/Meek/Bellboy/Wynn/Stationmaster/Jerome: Daniel Crowder.
Jean: Kirsty Hoiles.
Arthur: Adrian Lukis.
George: Chris Nayae.
Maud: Anneika Rose.
Director: Rachel Kavanaugh.
Designer: Ruari Murchison.
Lighting: Tim Mitchell.
Composer: Terry Davies.
Projection/Video: Barret Hodgson.