GENEROUS To 30 January.

London.

GENEROUS
by Michael Healey.

Finborough Theatre above Finborough Brasserie 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 30 January 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (reduced full-price tickets online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 January.

Canadian shenanigans behind the political scenes frame sharp glimpses of private lives.
Upgraded to the Finborough’s main programme (it had a brief Sunday/Monday night run here last August), Michael Healey’s play seems strong as before. And like all the best new pieces it keeps a freshness while showing new sides to itself. Partly this is because of the current British political mire, for the opening scene has a Thick Of It ferocity and humour.

High on you-couldn’t-make-it-up stakes is the opening where the heritage minister has stabbed a right-wing rival to ensure a one-vote win on a vote of Confidence – until she slithers to the ground, a corpse herself. Retribution comes fast in Canada. Except, in the 1990s there, one party leader did tell a minister to slit a rival’s throat.

In the politically genteel UK it’s hard to imagine such goings-on; next we’ll be believing our politicians shout, swear and call each other naughty names like these frenetic politicos. But, hang about a bit. Isn’t this play called Generous? So, how come murder and mayhem are the scene?

Well, there are ideals. They sit behind the urgent political manoeuvring; losing the vote means the other side getting in, with ruinous consequences for the social values of the country. There is a wish to do good for the nation, however the urge manifests itself. And the scenes that follow translate this tension into various private lives, at home or work, in scenes of pointed wit and extended argument.

If men make the political running in the book-ending parliamentary scenes, the stories in-between foreground the wills of women. So, a businesswoman is frank about despoiling the environment, then turns inexplicably to public service, despite disliking people; it’s an urge she can hardly define.

Jane Perry’s performance, smiling knowingly and operating smoothly, remains confident and convincing as ever. Scott Christie as the journalist she repeatedly surprises and eventually sweeps up with the easy power of capital, Richard Beanland’s Alex Flemming, arguing morality with his mature lover, and Meghan Popiel’s glacially determined Lily, remain notable in a cast where new members integrate with those from August in Eleanor Rhode’s sharp, confident and energetic production.

Eric Poole/David Paul: Scott Christie.
Tommy Langavoolin/Alex Flemming: Richard Beanland.
Len Bencaster/Richard: Rick Bland.
Peter Tucker: Corey Turner.
Marc Brancois/Scotty Nguyen: John Sheerman.
Cathy Freeman/Lily: Meghan Popiel.
Julia: Jane Perry.
Maria: Karen Archer.

Director: Eleanor Rhode.
Designers: Kim Alwyn, Aimee Sajjan-Servaes.
Lighting: Christopher Nairne..
Sound: George Dennis.

2010-01-23 09:53:31

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