Masterpieces, 4****, London

by Sarah Daniels.

The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED to 19 May 2018.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01223 387 851.
Review: William Russell 26 April

A magnificent, provocative play for today from yesterday

Sarah Daniels play was last seen at the Royal Court in 1983 when she won the Critics’ Circle drama section award for most promising playwright. It was a powerful attack on the pornography of the time, the way women were objectified by men which has lost none of its ability to shock with the passage of time. Things have changed, women have managed to escape the limitations of the time to some extent, and it is no longer soft porn magazines like Penthouse, launched just down the road in 1965, Hustler and Mayfair or under the counter in brown paper bag DVDs that men use to watch to reinforce their belief just where women belong. But for all the changes that have taken place the awful thing rapidly dawns that now we have the internet and that pornographic world of snuff movies and women exploited as sex object is there at the touch of a button for anyone who wants to see it.

It is abut three couples, one of whom, Rowena, is a social worker who is both horrified by the porn world which her step father and mother seem to accept, and foolishly gets the husband of a friend, a Jack the lad to put it politely, to give a job to one of her clients who has been forced into prostitution to bring up her son. But the man, who knows what she was, expects to get what he wants. After all that is what she is.

The action take place over a series of dinner parties and meetings between Rowena and her husband, who sells the magazines and sees nothing wrong in doing so, her unhappily married teacher friend with the predatory husband, and her equally dysfunctional parents. Daniels does not mince her words and the result is a deeply moving. In due course Rowena, stressed by what has happened to her plans and life, is molested by a man on the Underground, pushes him away and he falls under the train. It is murder.
This is not what women are allowed to do. The rules for men are totally different. These rules may have altered slightly but there is a long way to go before we live in a genuinely fair society and this is a most timely revival well directed by Melissa Dunnne and equally well played by a first rate cast led by Olivia Darnley as the luckless Rowena.

The Baron; Trevor; Man in Street; psychiatrist: Edward Killingbeck.
The Peddler; Ron; Man in tube station; Counsel for the Prosecution: Rob Ostiere.
The Consumer; Clive; Policeman; Teacher; Second man in Tube Station; Judge; Nicholas Cass-Beggs.
Jennifer; Judge; Policewoman; Irene Wade: Sophie Doherty.
Rowena: Olivia Darnley.
Yvonne; Hilary: Tessie Orange-Turner.

Director: Melissa Dunne.
Set Designer: Verity Quinn.
Lighting Designer: Jack Coleman.
Costume Designer: Leah Mulhern.
Sound Designer: Domenic Menghini.

2018-04-29 14:46:16

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