by Lucy Gannon.

Derby Theatre To 29 May 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat 22, 26, 29 May 2.30pm.
Audio-described 26 May 7.20pm 29 May 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 22 May 2.30pm, 27 May.
Post-show Discussion 27 May.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 01352 255800.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 May.

This play might not change your life – but it will pass a couple of hours of it enjoyably.
It’s ironic really. Back from the brink of extinction, Derby Theatre’s latest offering comes from a writer famous for TV work (Peak Practice, Soldier Soldier), employing the style and methods of cinema.

Theatre can hold its own scene-by-scene. Where it gives way is in the bits between. Film’s instantaneous editing between locations seems enviable as the story takes its course through short scene after short scene, and restaurant tables are laid, cleared, shifted, hoisted. Till it becomes clear this choreography is a ploy of Pete Meakin’s production, reflecting the effort getting through each day involves.

Especially when life’s been changed and emotional confidence shattered, as it has for Nancy. Behind her experience is something elemental: the idea stretching back to Plato, of each human seeking completeness in another. Businesswoman Nancy, whose London restaurant suffers only from her inability to cook, seems to have found this with master-chef Eddie. He’s disorganised but passionately creative with food. They’re a perfect partnership, and seem made for each other in the first act flashbacks from the despair of present-day bereavement.

That shifts suddenly, rather arbitrarily in the second act. But, given another chance, Nance can’t take it, wreathed now in hostility and betrayal. This is theatre on home ground, and most of the energy and humour come after the interval, with an act that might be the response to a challenge to wring belly-laughs from a wet tea-towel, a national insurance number and Vaseline (not what you might think).

Scene changes are set to romantic numbers, restaurant walls give way to a coastline and final credits roll over Nettie Scriven’s set, as Meakin’s cast combine comic point with character energy. Kathryn Hunt’s forceful Nancy’s emits boiling love and betrayal, Eddie’s waywardness and optimistic hope of stitching life back together are given a facile frankness by Thomas Craig.

And the emotional sores of hard-working staff members Will (Steven Blakeley sharp-edged with a running-gag about sexuality) and Sophie-Louise Dann as Mo, practical about a life with a romantic hollow) contrast the tempered calm of Gillian Axtell as Nancy’s mother, whose life has sailed into calmer waters.

Kay: Gillian Axtell.
Will: Steven Blakeley.
Eddie: Thomas Craig.
Mo: Sophie-Louise Dann.
Nancy: Kathryn Hunt.
Waiter: Adam Horvath/Bethan Nash.

Director: Pete Meakin.
Designer: Nettie Scriven.
Lighting: Ceri James.
Sound: Adam McCready.
Assistant designer: Lili Rogué.

2010-05-22 10:35:10

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