by Arthur Miller.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street SW1 Y 6ST To 23 July 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed &Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7287 2875.
Review Mark Courtice 6 July.
Running Times: I Can’t Remember Anything – 45 minutes, Clara – 40 minutes. One interval.
Intense short plays.
At the interval of this revival of a pair of short plays by Arthur Miller, not seen in London since 1988, a couple of figures flit, scarcely noticed, across the stage and out into the West End evening. David Burke and Anna Calder-Marshall are going home. The shock is that 10 minutes before they have been mesmerisingly inhabiting that stage as Leo and Leonora in Miller’s 45 minute gem.
One act plays can disappoint; you don’t have time to get to know the people, there is no chance of developing a plot, and ideas don’t take root. In Miller’s case he sidesteps this by distilling these things rather than cutting them out. The result is intense, austere and a chance for some terrific acting.
In I Can’t Remember Anything, a pair of elderly friends explore the loss that comes with not remembering. There’s no comfort here, just the withering of powers formerly taken for granted. The big decision that Leo has taken is to leave his body to science, and he’s put a note by the ‘phone so people don’t forget. Leonora copes wistfully with knowing more about the past than just now.
This slice of elderly life is kept interesting by the performances; Burke and Calder-Marshall don’t rely on actorly tricks, but are precise, brave and unsparing.
In Clara Roger Sloman’s detective battles to get Rolf Saxon’s Albert to tell him the name of a suspect in his daughter’s murder. This is a detective story reduced to the essence; the body’s off-stage, there’s no CSI, there are no clues, and even the motive is less in the murder than in the way that Albert brought up his child. The point is the psychological picking apart of a man who does not want to open up, and the pleasure is in the duel in the hands of two clever actors.
In the close-up space of the Jermyn Street Theatre the focus is tight, and Ed Viney’s direction is sensitive as much to the meandering of Leo and Leonora, as to the pressure of Detective Fine’s urgent inquisition.
I Can’t Remember Anything
Leo: David Burke.
Leonora: Anna Calder–Marshall.
Tierney: Adrian Grove.
Clara: Laura Pyper.
Kroll: Rolf Saxon.
Fine: Roger Sloman.
Director: Ed Viney.
Designer: Anna Finch.
Music: Richard Sisson.
Lighting/Sound: Phil Hewitt.