BARROW HILL To 4 September.

London.

BARROW HILL
by Jane Wainwright.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 4 September 2012.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 1hr 5min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 August.

A gentle Hill, well worth clmbing.
This is a short play – though arrive early and there’s a non-essential prologue which connects the woman stuck determinedly in her chair with the young man and woman coyly playing on the building-site behind her. Their happy innocence, cutting through the defensive layers of courtship in a more reticent age, contrasts the present-day anxieties now the Girl has matured into Kath Bilby, her husband long dead and her son Graham responsible for destroying her long-attended North Derbyshire chapel.

For it’s work, and anyway hardly anyone attends these days, while the luxury flats the building will become can be homes to people. Besides which, there’s no other work around. And Charlie’s looking to pass on a family business to his daughter Alison.

Yet she, fired by her Polish builder-boyfriend’s escape to open a restaurant, wants to construct her life in other fields. So, as life starts for the figures from the past, it presents challenges in the present-day.

Jane Wainright’s play isn’t as long as Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should and it doesn’t develop through so many time-zones. But it has the same respect for all its characters, the same warmth that comes from recognising the qualities and failings in each person and it lets characters speak for themselves. There’s no line imposed to present an authorial opinion, or create a laugh (the piece is hardly laugh-a-minute, but any humour is rooted fully in its characters’ situation). Even the co-existence of young and older Kath, which might be a hackneyed device, is ultimately used with a fresh sharpness.

Events move forward and make their demands. But life mainly goes on, and has to be accommodated. It’s an honest, through-through drama and holds the attention accordingly. There are flashier plays around from young writers but very few as well-considered and worth an hour or so of anyone’s time.

Certainly in Abbey Wright’s production, which shows the play’s strengths without imposing upon them, and focuses on gaining fine, believable performances from a skilled cast, among whom Cath Whitefield’s Alison is notably as expressive when watching and listening as when speaking.

Boy: Tom Spink.
Girl: Sarah Ridgeway.
Kath Bilby: Janet Henfrey.
Graham Bilby: Charlie Roe.
Alison Bilby: Cath Whitefield.
Lucasz Wozniac: Mark Wainman.

Director: Abbey Wright.
Designer: Natalie Moggridge.
Lighting: Miguel Vicente.
Sound/Composer: Max Pappenheim.
Assistant director: Susan Crothers.

2012-08-23 13:10:47

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