by William Mastrosimone
Old Red Lion To 21 June 2003
Runs 2hr 10min One interval
TICKETS: 020 7837 7816 / 08700 600100
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 May
Committed revival shows a play that’s more melodrama than it would like you to think.Rape and revenge are the subjects of William Mastrosimone’s play. As a thriller it has the necessary edge-of-seat quality, while as an issue play this anglicised revival (the play’s American, half this cast – like production company Itchy Feet Theatre – Australian) latches on to a current theme: how far a householder can go in dealing with a violent intruder.
The victim here, Marjorie, has suffered terribly, but by the time she’s turned the tables she’s as much injured, in terms of marks and evidence, by a wasp sting as by her human attacker.
She can see him only as an animal. Had she lived alone instead of with two other women, she might have carried out her threat to kill him. Their arrival home (both taking some time to detect a trussed-up intruder in the room) beats us off that dramatic track. Despite its title and graphic opening, the play carefully avoids taking anything to extremes. Instead, people here take positions: Marjorie feeling justified, Patricia caught in her Social Worker theory, while Terry dithers in confusion.
The women actors give a fair sense of these people; Ineke Rapp especially shows the boiling inner turmoil. Only the short, stabbing phrases of her speech describing fear doesn’t come off, but the falseness is rooted in the self-conscious writing.
Strangely, most interest comes from the perpetrator. Darren Day’s Raul might be an answer to a maiden’s prayer if he weren’t a woman’s nightmare. Vicious, wheedling, deceitful and almost on auto-pilot as liar, there’s still something more fascinating in the character behind the behaviour than in the author’s female characters who seem written from the outside, servants of an idea.
But this writhing contradiction, lashed much of the time in a fireplace-prison, shows pain within himself; probing the balance between villain and victim within one character might have taken us into more uncharted territory than the play Mastrosimone actually wrote.
Director Glenn Fraser overcomes the problem of transposition to the age of mobile phones (a great plot-alterer) but doesn’t manage to convince elegant Terry would take to grave-digging in her best frock. The soft-centre, copout end is tactfully handled.
Raul: Darren Day
Marjorie: Ineke Rapp
Patricia: Susie Porter
Terry: Abby Simpson
Director: Glenn Fraser
Designer: Malin Lindholm
Lighting: Aleaxandra Gill
Sound: Chris Buckley
Art director: Fabrice Spelta
Fight arranger: Toby Gaffney courtesy of Youngblood Ltd
Make-up: Dani Richardson