LIFE OF RILEY
by Alan Ayckbourn.
New Vic Newcastle-under-Lyme.
then 9 – 20 November 2010.
The Old Laundry Theatre Bowness-on-Windermere.
9-20 November 2010.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
TICKETS: 08445 040604.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Rod Dungate, 21.10.10
Sure touch Ayckbourn with a gentle touch.
An Ayckbourn premiere for the New Vic – quite a theatrical coup. And in LIFE OF RILEY, Mr AA shows that he’s still a master of his form.
Ayckbourn gives us three couples, in various ways all six people connected with Riley; by all accounts he’s a real charmer. But his life is cut short with a cancer diagnosis. Ayckbourn, in this gentle play, explores, not exactly death (Riley never appears) but the effect of death on those around the dying person. Many of the themes are common Ayckbourn ground (middle class mores for instance); and Ayckbourn, as ever, delights in playing with staging techniques.
But he never fails to bring a freshness to his work and his insights are as perceptive as ever.
In this play, his dialogue is economic – leaning towards sparse – and written with a lightness of touch that is a delight. His insights, too, share sharpness and wit – as when acerbic, doctor’s wife, Kathryn accuses men of ‘selective deafness’. Ayckbourn, with great mastery, dovetails his twists and turns with character development, nowhere clearer than the moment in which Kathryn, who has delighted us with her waspish put-downs, suddenly reveals in an intimate moment, touching details of her past.
Liza Goddard’s portrayal of Katharine is superb, never missing a comic second while forging a touching emotional journey. Her husband, Colin, in Kim Wall’s performance, is a perfect foil – he is all hesitant understatement to great comic effect. And wait for his clock synchronisation speech. Laura Doddington brings a bright dimension to this strong company.
Ayckbourn directs; among the qualities I most admired are the elegance and gentle pacing of the evening. Ayckbourn as intriguing and entertaining as ever.
Tamsin: Laura Doddington
Kathryn: Liza Goddard
Monica: Laura Howard
Simeon: Jamie Kenna
Jack: Ben Porter
Colin: Kim Wall
Director: Alan Anyckbourn
Designer: Michael Holt
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor
Casting Director: Sarah Hughes