by Peter Hamilton.
Rosemary Branch Theatre 2 Shepperton Road N1 3DT To 3 May 2015.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Sun 5pm.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7704 2730.
Review: William Russell 18 April.
Lost and damaged souls well-worth finding.
Ruth and Bernard are inmates of a Yorkshire mental home. She lives in a world she has created out of Wuthering Heights, escaping there from reality, believing herself to be a Brontë sister, longing for the countryside and the moors.
Bernard (Richard Fish) is a young man who has never grown up, obsessed with a First World War German submarine wreck washed-up on the beach near Bridlington, and bare ladies. They meet, a bond is created, then their imagined worlds collide: her moorland fantasy, his relationship with an imaginary German submariner.
Peter Hamilton has created a fascinating, moving play about people who have lost touch with the real world, escaped from their lives into worlds of their own creating, and find in an imaginary Bridlington a world where they might be happy. Except it clashes with their other worlds.
Director Ken McClymont has secured fine performances from the entire cast, notably Julia Tarnoky as Ruth, a bird-like young woman straining at every sinew for something she cannot quite reach. She has found an escape in writing poetry in a workshop run by the hospital.
We never really find out why she and Bernard, an overgrown schoolboy who behaves – and looks – like late TV comic Benny Hill chasing bikini-clad women round the parks of his home town, are in the home. It is enough they are there.
Nor do we learn the true character of amiable porter Eric, a retired RAF man who sings in the church choir, and Gillian, the motherly sister coping with these difficult beings. They undergo sinister character changes, but it could be that suddenly we see them through Julia’s eyes.
How did Bernard escape? Did the pair have sex? Does she too end-up dead? The play is not about answers, but the here and now, people the real world has disowned. It is not an easy play, and it is probably in its real home – a fringe theatre; this is not one to draw a huge house. But it is well-worth catching and not only for the sensitive, achingly real performances given by Tarnoky and Fish.
Alexander/Wulf: Christopher James Barley.
Gillian/Nellie Dean: Toni Brooks.
Bernard: Richard Fish.
Eric: Steve Hunt.
Ruth: Julia Tarnoky.
Director: Ken McClymont.
Lighting/Sound: Simeon Miller.
Costume: Vana Giannoula.