by Doug Lucie.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 6 July 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 June.
Vividly catching the curve of late 20th century England.
When Doug Lucie’s play arrived from Oxford at the Bush Theatre 30 years ago it was the most perfectly produced and acted piece even at that distinguished West London theatre. James Hillier’s revival is not so pointed, and the acting is less defined in some cases, but it’s still a class act and another valuable Finborough revival.
It’s also a reminder of how Lucie skewered the age. Though there have been street riots in recent years, as sirens and flashing blue lights show happening in 1983 Brixton, what comes steadily into focus in a play both hilarious and serious, is the shift from post-60s counter-culture to a re-established monetary hierarchy, seen in one household.
It seems a commune at first, two lovers asleep on a mattress, others swinging unconcerned around them. But this is Viv’s house and she uses ownership to have her way. When she’s upset by the most sympathetic character around, Viv merely orchestrates a group silent treatment to get rid of her.
All fall into place, from the self-obsessed model and would-be artist, and the New Romantic locked away behind earphones as the street erupts outside, to the reluctant northerner who knows he’s betraying a friend but joins the silenced majority.
It’s not really Viv’s house, but her parents’. They have the money so she has to accept their terms – no upgrade to Chelsea allowed. Her sense of command is matched by nerves when they visit; she hands-out bills for household expenses and orders people to tidy-up, before giving instructions on what to call her parents and lining everyone up to a blast of Vivaldi (parental preference) as if for a royal visit.
Zora Bishop and Isabella Laughland attract sympathy and repulsion exactly as they ought, while Jesse Fox is sublimely superficial and self-obsessed, Margaret Clunie a model of poised vacuity and Nick Blakeley down-to-earth ineffectuality. Only working-class interloper Tone stays unfocused.
The Finborough missed a trick in not programming Hull Truck’s Bridget’s House from five years earlier alongside this show – then Truck director Mike Bradwell links the two; but it’s not missed many in this revival.
Rusty: Jesse Fox.
Annie: Margaret Clunie.
Tone: Callum Turner.
Baz: Nick Blakeley.
Jane: Zora Bishop.
Viv: Isabella Laughland.
Director: James Hillier.
Designer: Stephanie Williams.
Lighting: Will Evans.
Sound: Tom Meehan.
Assistant director: Guy Jones.