DAYTONA: Oliver Cotton
Park Theatre on Tour
Runs: 2h 30m, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 21 October, Birmingham Rep Theatre
A full evening of in-depth acting reveals a moving play.
There is a current fashion for short plays – fair enough – but many of us fear we are losing sight of a well structured full-length play . . . . and the excitement of watching skilled actors who can hold our attention for long periods. In which case, you could say DAYTONA is old-fashioned, or at least out of fashion, but if this is true fashionistas are losing out.
DAYTONA is two and a half hours of three-handed drama. This story of cruelty and love, of compromise in an imperfect world, of moving on, of making the best of what we have, unfolds in the sure hands of the three actors. The play has the added strength that this is a story of three older characters; their joys and suffering span many years – there is plenty to engage us in this very human and poignant play.
There’s something Ibsenesque about Oliver Cotton’s play. A stranger (Billy the younger brother) returns to his family; terrible truths emerge or are freshly revealed. This causes the characters to examine the truth of their shared lives; and, just as in Ibsen, truth does not necessarily equate with a better life.
Maureen Lipman skilfully understates Elli to begin with; this gives her plenty of room to expand into a steely and equal member of the trio as her character lives through her journey. Lipman exhibits all her comedic skill, mining the gentle humour to be found from the script, but never at the expense of it.
Harry Shearer and John Bowe (brothers Joe and Billy) complement each other perfectly and the fireworks, when they explode, crackle and bang with exciting ferocity.
Oliver Cotton, in his script, celebrates our need to compromise, explores with confidence the complexities of our lives. As Elli says, talking of love: ‘It wasn’t perfect – but then what is?’
Elli: Maureen Lipman
Joe: Harry Shearer
Billy: John Bowe
Director: David Grindley
Designer: Ben Stones
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor
Sound Designer: Fergus O’Hare
Choreographer: Francesca Jaynes
Accent Coach: Tim Charrington