by Karen Ardiff.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street Dalston E8 3DL To 1 March 2014.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 February.
Scoundrel time in Skagway, with little guiding light.
Everyone’s getting out of Skagway, an Alaskan gold-rush town where, in 1898, the gold’s all gone. But May remains determined Frankie will give her knockout performance as Hermione turning from apparent statue to life after 16 years supposed dead in The Winter’s Tale. Even in the sexually suggestive context of a lace mock-up of the Statue of Liberty, it hardly seems likely entertainment after a hard day’s prospecting.
But May has an urgent financial reason for the performance taking place. She has a major problem too, for whatever her past prowess (and there’s more than one view of her prowess and her past) Frankie is now reduced by a stroke to a mindless chair-bound creature, jolting occasionally but with no voluntary movement or speech.
Unlike well-rehearsed theatre, in life chance turns ambitions into something like the fool’s gold which misleads gold-seekers. And, in life, as the characters here discover, a fool and her money soon become parted.
Amy has invested hope in Frankie, as dressers did the actors they readied for performance. But she has dashed the hopes of her practical prospector-daughter T-Belle, leaving even their return home a further matter of chance.
To help save the performance, glamorous young Nelly’s brought in to act instead. But Nelly only helps herself.
Karen Ardiff’s play offers a range of interesting ingredients, some quite basic fare for bringing to a dramatic boil – the actor living off a single role recalling Frankie’s contemporary in America, James Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the actor no longer able to play, trust betrayed – and the quirky individuality of the setting. There’s also the creation of unseen characters whose presence is clearly defined. But they remain separate elements, at least in Russell Bolam’s Arcola production for KTR Productions in association with Gúna Nua.
Acerbity in characters’ relationships, exploration of individual psychology, revelations about the past and plot developments never merge, and – whether or not because of the self-interest in the different characters – performances, individually forceful, rarely connect with each other.
A pity, there was clearly something of interest going on in Skagway.
May: Geraldine Alexander.
Frankie: Angeline Ball.
T-Belle: Kathy Rose O’Brien.
Nelly: Natasha Starkey.
Director: Russell Bolam.
Designer: Natasha Piper.
Lighting: Katherine Williams.
Sound/Composer: George Dennis.
Movement: Lucy Cullingford.
Dialect coach: Richard Ryder.
Assistant director: Lisa Carroll.