by Sarah Daniels.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL To 21 June 2014.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 May.
Finely performed all round in a rounded view of adults’ love for their children.
In the 1980s Sarah Daniels wrote pungent feminist plays such as Masterpieces (“How many men does it take to tile a bathroom?” – “Three, but you have to slice them thin”) and The Devil’s Gateway, where the female characters finally find common purpose in joining the women’s anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common.
Her stage output thinned after that, but now she’s back with a consideration of love and the emotional need of adult for child.
In Between Us prosperous builder Dave and middle-class Teresa (her early Waitrose reference, along with clothes, hairstyle and voice are giveaways) talk separately to an unseen Julia. Their stories link to each other, without their knowing, through two unseen characters, a young brother and sister, a link illustrating the difficulties of such love.
Teresa, denied her own children, adopts the two, whose behaviour is uncontrollable. The reason lies with their mother, whose own vulnerability is exploited by Dave. His unthinking manner with these two children contrasts the material care for his own daughter.
Credulity’s stretched in Julia’s attempt to script her own story as a stand-up routine, an unlikely venture though it suggests an attempt to accommodate unsettling realities. And there’s a sharp contrast between the calm therapeutic sessions, with their strict time-limit, and the events recalled, which repeatedly hit the clock mid-recall.
Julia’s nerves in developing her stand-up material have a parallel in the awkwardness of her meetings outside the consulting-room, a chance encounter with Dave and embarrassment-laden ones with the daughter she’s not seen, brought-up by others in Yorkshire.
Kath’s accent’s a sharp pointer to their separation, as are Julia’s awkward attempts to fork-out for meals or a taxi as the pair are reunited in anonymous public places. John Burgess directs three strong actors who catch the emotional chaos lurking behind ordered recounting of events, in a piece which explores in detail emotional intensity and the complexities within the desire of adults to express love for children.
When deliberate child abuse risks becoming an easy dramatic cliché, Daniels’ more searching exploration of love, wise or unwise, and its rough edges is a welcome arrival.
Julia: Charlotte Cornwell.
Dave: Callum Dixon.
Teresa/Kath: Georgina Rich.
Director: John Burgess.
Designer: Simon Daw.
Lighting: Nicholas Holdridge.
Sound: Neil McKeown.
Assistant direcroe: Matthew Parvin.