by Anthony Weigh.

Bush Theatre Shepherd’s Bush Green W12 8QD To 10 July 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Captioned 26 June 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 June.

Where architecture alone cannot stand up.
It’s raining heavily, so The Architect and her Intern will be taking a taxi to their presentation. The Architect is confident, practised, her Intern brightly youthful and very smart-looking. The Mother’s from another world. She’s come a long way, dripping wet in the rain. And blind.

Her world is one where religious faith has meaning. Which it doesn’t have for the metropolitan sophisticates. Yet both she and The Intern, for different reasons, hold The Architect’s hands in prayer-mode at some point.

More than religion fires this Mother. It’s despair over her daughter’s fate, along with that of other local children. The Architect has designed a memorial for them, having visited the community; it’s a building that is a well-reasoned response to what happened.

But it’s conceptually well-reasoned. It doesn’t answer The Mother’s grief. The conflict between these two is the heart of the play, given clarity in Josie Rourke’s production by fine performances from Deborah Findlay, controlled, trying to keep a reasonable manner even when convinced she’s facing a madwoman, her voice portraying patience, impatience and polite evasion through well-educated modulation.

And Sarah Smart, irregular in movement as, wet and blind, she asserts her point in a smaller voice, changing little in tone. Yet she’s the one who discomposes the others, including The Intern, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, sociably adept in the world she knows but adrift in this person’s presence.

With the model of the village, including the proposed memorial, dominating the stage and providing the scenery around, and across, which characters and their arguments clash, there’s plenty to debate. But it all seems a bit too neat, somehow. Only when her precious model itself is attacked does The Architect become emotionally involved.

Her superior detachment till then, The Mother’s urgent pleading, The Intern’s elegant self-possession are all beautifully played. And they ought to amount to a fruitful conflict between dispassionate expertise and the intensity of subjective involvement. But, despite the aptness of each character’s situation, they remain too calculated, the pre-planned arguments of a debate rather than the expressions of people caught-up in challenges to their assumed points of view.

The Architect: Deborah Findlay.
The Mother: Sarah Smart
The Intern: Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Director: Josie Rourke.
Designer: Lucy Osborne.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Assistant director: Simon Evans.

2010-06-20 23:00:17

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