BEAUTIFUL HOUSE To 8 May.

Manchester.

BEAUTIFUL HOUSE
by Cathy Crabb.

Library Theatre To 8 May 2919.
Mon-Thu 7.30pm Fri-Sat 8pm Mat 6, 8 May 3pm.
Audio-described 8 May 3pm.
BSL Signed 6 May 7.30pm.
Captioned 7 May.
Pre-show Talk 8 May 2pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS:L 0161 236 7110.
www.librarytheatre.com
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 May.

A story of the not-so-dolcevita.
There’s a busy new-play scene around Manchester, and Cathy Crabb’s play has bubbled-up through it to be performed in the Library Theatre’s final months, before the company takes to the road.

It’s fitting, because Crabb’s play is about having a home. Young Paula and Otis live in a tower-block where Ronnie and Bridgette move in on the floor above. The young adults are renting their flat; the older have done a swap with their dying daughter so she and her husband can live in the parents’ stone-built rural home.

It causes tension; Bridgette can hardly stand the life, even pro tem, though she’s soon into the suburban occupation of criticising their younger neighbours’ décor. For down-below’s Paula, through being a cleaner at the Museum, is into Egyptology. One fascination of Crabb’s play is how much Paula and Otis, with their young child, are following a similar pattern as Ronnie and Bridgette towards mutual discontent.

Bridgette’s disgust with the tower-block’s certainly one possible future for the still energetic and hopeful Paula, while Otis could easily sideline himself into something like the resigned casualness with which Ronnie survives his wife’s intensity and covers the loss of his daughter, first to a husband and now to wasting disease.

Dawn Allsopp’s set makes the point about the potential similarities of the relationships, revolving between the two rooms where almost all the action happens. Yet differences remain. Though Bridgette feels trapped in this high-rise hell-hole, she volunteered for it on a temporary basis. Otis and Paula can only dream of owning, not renting a flat, noting that land’s increasingly being taken for regeneration in the interests of the wealthy.

Crabb’s script mixes self-conscious comedy with moving moments – the daughter’s final letter to her parents is strong and pointed. Similarly, there are effective passages in Noreen Kershaw’s production. There are also hesitancies and uncertainties that tend to make the older couple’s lives together seem unconvincing. It may be Ronnie copes with Bridgette’s outbursts by his casual manner, covering his own distress. But the relationship seems improvised alongside the far more believable existence of Otis and Paula.

Ronnie: John Henshaw.
Bridgette: Janice Connolly.
Paula: Sally Carman.
Otis: James Foster.

Director: Noreen Kershaw.
Designer: Dawn Allsopp.
Lighting: Phil Clarke.
Sound: Paul Gregory.

2010-05-04 14:10:58

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