DOING THE BUSINESS and BLIND
by Doug Lucie.
Courtyard Theatre (Studio) 40 Pitfield Street N1 6EU To 23 February 2014.
Tue-Sun 7.30pm no performances 11-16 February.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7729 2202.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 January.
Two vivid snapshots of art and money meeting.
There’s no set so smart, so smooth, so sophisticated it can’t be critically analysed by dramatist Doug Lucie. Here he turns his attention to art and commerce. The lighter, slighter, Doing the Business is a 1990 riposte to the Thatcherite cuts in arts funding.
Mike and Peter were once students in the radical seventies. Now public subsidy’s being replaced by corporate sponsorship ‘packages’. Mike’s trying to keep his theatre venture afloat, while Peter’s the one sitting in the big chair behind the desk, gatekeeper for corporate sponsorship funds.
Matthew Carter, resplendent in bright red tie and socks, when the colour had come to represent banker bravado rather than socialist militancy, and Jim Mannering, still smoking strongly and realising he’s in a different climate now, talk through old times before the common ground starts melting away in Saul Reid’s robust production of a play where the clearly right argument clearly won’t prevail.
More substantial, and complex, in considering of artistic principles, Blind started-out a radio play. Its scenes make a largely successful transition to stage, though seeing the characters can mean decisions about reactions are taken away from audience imaginations, while progress between scenes can be jerky.
But Sean Turner’s production shows it’s well-worth putting before an audience, as young artist Alan, his studio provided free by the older man he’s first seen painting nude, is taken-up by leading art-dealer Paul Stone. One principle of art seems to be ditching anyone who no longer helps your career; old Mo, atoning for a misspent youth by supporting Alan, is replaced by the insistent Stone, who in turns drops bad-ass conceptualist Maddy.
As Maddy rampages roughly through every nicety, Janna Fox shows the confidence of someone used to being in high-esteem, hardly seeing the reputational cliff-edge before her. Cameron Harle’s Alan starts innocently unaware of the art-world’s way.
The balance of influences will doubtless settle as Jon McKenna – standing-in last minute – becomes more confident as Mo. And Daniel York’s sharp-minded Stone, his enthusiasm for Alan’s work a mix of artistic appreciation and acquisitive greed, is a strong make-or-break force where art meets commerce.
Doing the Business
Peter: Matthew Carter.
Mike: Jim Mannering.
Director: Saul Reid.
Maddy Burns: Janna Fox.
Alan Gillespie: Cameron Harle.
Mo Dyer: Jon McKenna.
Paul Stone: Daniel York.
Director: Sean Turner.
Designer: Katie Unsworth-Murray.
Lighting: Paul Thomas.