by David Storey.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 2 July 2013.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 1hr 5min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 June.
in its own terms a good revival, and a proper reminder of a neglected playwright.
.In 1980 David Storey’s play opened at the Cottesloe Theatre with Ralph Richardson playing the central character, former politician Kitchen. It’s revived at the Finborough, in celebration of the author’s 80th birthday, with Simon Molloy. Storey might well feel neglected, like his politician protagonist, though not disgraced in the topical-sounding way one 25-minute speech and 15-second interview did for Kitchen’s cabinet career.
Now, Kitchen’s life is organised by his family, a kind of house-arrest with their firm’s chef turned into his minder. Kitchen is firmly reminded the house where he lives is his daughter’s, and the practices of age – relieving himself against somebody’s wall, leaving abusive messages on his son-in-law’s answering machine – are barely-tolerated eccentricities. At least they seemed eccentricities in 1980, with Richardson. But Molloy, an ever-reliable actor, and Tim Newns’ production, only play the words.
Early Days wasn’t seen as a major addition to Storey’s plays, often rooted in his own occupations – tent-erector, rugby-player, artist – or his childhood. Instead it came over as a minor piece, a move towards Harold Pinter territory. This revival scotches the Pinter link and shows it as a true Storey.
Yet Kitchen comes over as merely tetchy, his grand-daughter Gloria as impatiently critical. All right enough. But this is a play about late life called Early Days, and one implication of the title is the difference between ambition and achievement, between heydays and latter days, fame and obscurity.
Richardson was supreme at suggesting infinite depths by standing, teacup in hand, and staring silently ahead (by that stage, it was possible the great actor was actually searching for the next line, but it scarcely mattered in his numinous presence).
Missing here is that sense of Kitchen’s interior. Events seem real, rather than being perceived through Kitchen’s dreamlike perception where past and present intermix, present events taking-on a context provided by a mind set in the past.
In its own terms the production is efficient, with Molloy and, among others, in particular Max Gold as the tactful minder and Abigail Bond as the protagonist’s daughter (a Kitchenette?), considerate and concerned, giving well-judged performances.
Kitchen: Simon Molloy.
Bristol: Max Gold.
Mathilda: Abigail Bond.
Benson: Andrew McDonald.
Doctor: Andrew Glen.
Gloria: Hannah Taylor Gordon.
Steve: Toby Manley.
Director: Tim Newns.
Designer: Andy Robinson.
Lighting: William Ingham.
Sound: Chris Barlow.
Costume: Clare Amos.
Assistant director: Suvi Peisanen.