CHARLIE’S DARK ANGEL
by James Christopher.
Drayton Arms Theatre 153 Old Brompton Road SW5 0LJ To 28 March 2015.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7835 2301.
Review: William Russell 6 March.
A slow burn but when the flames take hold it explodes.
The setting for this tale of times past coming back to upset the equilibrium of the present, is a holiday cottage in Suffolk. Charlie, a forty-something picture framer, is welcoming a new tenant, Eric, a rather dashing chap of the same age whose much younger girlfriend, Ella, is waiting outside in his expensive car. It is all innocent enough on the surface, but when Eric reveals that he and Charlie were at school together, something Charlie cannot remember until prompted, the mood turns sinister.
Just what is he up to? To complicate things, the girlfriend, who is beautiful, is Ukrainian, here illegally and very much Eric’s plaything, while Charlie’s wife, Susan, is a City high-flyer whose biological clock is ticking. Their marriage is in trouble because Charlie’s clock seems to have stopped. As for the cottage, there is an ancient well in the grounds which Charlie is in the process of filling-in with cement. So far, so predictable. Someone will end up down that well.
Act One suffers from the fact that with four characters, some of whom are clearly destined to come a sticky end, surprise is lacking, and it needs some more punchy revelation to end with. Christopher, however, makes up for this in Act Two which goes like the clappers and springs several splendid surprises which duly take the breath away.
The play needs some tightening up, and a really good set locating these out of the ordinary goings-on in the ordinary world of holiday lets would help. That is not to criticise the set, just that this is the fringe which imposes limitation on what is possible.
Ben Porter agonises splendidly as the spineless Charlie, tempted by Eric, Kieran Gough oozing danger, to become what Eric thinks he was destined to be when they were at school – a writer. Joannah Tincey provides the backbone Charlie seems to lack with style, and Phooe Pryce as the gorgeous Ella makes an impressive professional debut.
So does Mr Christopher, gamekeeper turned poacher being a former drama and film critic, because this is his first play.
Charlie: Ben Porter.
Susan: Joannah Tincey.
Eric: Kieran Gough.
Ella: Phoebe Pryce.
Director: James Christopher.
Designer: John Fell-Clark.
Lighting: William Ingham.
Sound: Richard Harvey.
Costume: Suzanne Fell-Clark.