BUS STOP To 3 November.


by William Inge.

Theatre By The Lake Lakeside CA12 5DJ In rep to 3 November 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 1, 22 Sept, 13, 23 Oct, 3 Nov 2pm.
Audio-described 22 Sept 2pm.
Captioned 13 Oct 2pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 017687 74411.
Review: Timothy Ramsden

Midwest microcosm brought to life.
It’s hard now to realise how, half a century ago, William Inge was spoken of alongside Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. Bus Stop, from 1955, stands at the centre of Inge’s decade of success. Its setting, near the Kansas of the writer’s childhood, is background to a text-book type situation, in which bad weather delays a long-distance bus several hours at a café stop.

While Sarah Groarke’s tough-but-tender café owner and Andrew Grose as the bus driver, chomping to do more than the part allows, go through a charade to allow them to spend the time together, two lonely souls having just about enough contact in her bedroom, the passengers fill out the action, the travellers’ lives spilling across the café floor.

Stefan Escreet’s well-honed production gains from having a season-long ensemble working nightly in various combinations across a spectrum of six plays. There’s a lot of sitting around, often apparently not hearing or seeing what others are doing as Inge irons-out what would be simultaneous events to lay matters clear before the audience. These actors seem sensitised to each others’ performances; Robert Calvert’s sheriff watchful of two characters, Christopher Webster contrasting his cowboy enthusiasm with subdued moments until a new maturity enables him to treat Amy Ewbank’s comic yet sympathetic, less-than-she-seems ‘chantoose’ Cherie as a person with her own needs rather than a rodeo buckaroo.

These are notable performances, the sheriff’s experience and understanding of Bo emerging with the solidity of years’ experience, Bo’s grasping towards a more complex understanding of relationships clearly pieced in Webster’s performance (which with his character in Moira Buffini’s Silence in Keswick’s studio marks him as a player of danger-edged characters).

It’s hardly Patrick Bridgeman’s fault that his thoughtful Virgil, father-figure to his boss Bo and eventual outcast, shouldn’t quite convince as a farmhand, for he has the characters’ other qualities. Stephen Ley is tactful and Rebecca Elliot youthfully smiling in the play’s most outgrown strand, of an elderly intellectual fraud playing Romeo to pick-up an innocent high-school Juliet.

It’s a period-piece not a classic, but if the period fascinates, this production won’t disappoint.

Virgil: Patrick Bridgman.
Will: Robert Calvert.
Elma: Rebecca Elliot.
Cherie: Amy Ewbank.
Grace: Sarah Groarke.
Carl: Andrew Grose.
Dr Lyman: Stephen Ley.
Bo: Christopher Webster.

Director: Stefan Escreet.
Designer: Martin Johns.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Maura Guthrie.
Musical Director: Richard Atkinson.
Choreographer: Lorelei Lynn.
Dialect coach: Charmian Hoare.
Fight director: Kate Waters.

2010-08-22 14:54:01

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection