London and Tour
by Al Smith
4 Stars ****
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS to 29 October 2016 and touring
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 27 & 29 October 3pm.
Runs 75 mins No interval.
1 November – Farnham Maltings; 2 November, artsdepot, London; 3 November, Harlow, Playhouse; 4 November, The North Wall, Oxford; 6 November, The Marlow Studio, Canterbury; 10 November, The Garage, Norwich; 11 November, Didcot Cornerstone; 14 November, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds; 16 November, Cambridge Junction.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
Review: William Russell 24 October.
Challenging and ambiguous play about fathers and daughters
You pays your money and you makes your choice. The battle of the sexes is funny and upsetting in Al Smith’s disturbing play very well performed by Nigel Lindsay as Him, a middle aged man with problems and Sarah Ridgeway as the woman or women in his life. Known only as Her she is possibly a tart he has hired to impersonate his teenage Lolita like daughter for whom he is harbouring dangerous feelings, or the real daughter, or his sexually frustrated wife. Ridgeway gives a series of subtle and impeccable performances and Her could be three women or one woman.
Lindsay, body taught and tortured, oozes danger, one feels he is a man on the brink of doing something unforgiveable or possibly that he has already done it and is going over and over in his mind about his actions. As the three women, although she is too young to be the wife Him has had for 29 years, Ridgeway matches Lindsay blow for blow. She could, of course, be one woman and what we see a series of games between husband and wife whose relationship is stale and at risk because of his infatuations. We never know.
The play is performed traverse fashion on an all white featureless almost unfurnished room, which simply adds to the feeling of unreality and doubt as to what is true, what imagined. But the point about the unreality is that it could be reality. At times everything comes to a juddering halt which may suggest we are inside the man’s head as he confronts his demons. On the other hand that may not be what it is about at all.
What is not in doubt is this High Tide production is a gripping 75 minutes of theatre with two actors on top form. The Royal Court run is sold out so look up those tour dates.
Him: Nigel Lindsay.
Her: Sarah Ridgeway.
Director: Ricgard Twyman.
Design: Tom Piper.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound. George Dennis.