MY ZINC BED To 13 March.


by David Hare.

Royal and Derngate (Royal auditorium) To 13 March 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 9 March.
BSL Signed 10 March.
{ost-show discussion 9 March.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.

TICKETS: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 March.

A diagram rather than a picture.
Paul Peplow’s down-on-his-uppers, a recovering alcoholic struggling on occasional journalistic assignments, though an accomplished poet if he could afford to be. Victor Quinn’s hit it rich, a successful if philosophical ex-Communist businessman, who’s saved his wife Elsa from her own alcoholism before marrying her. They meet, Paul starts working for Victor, his way with words at the service of business.

This leads to a lot of discussion about moral issues. As a dialogue of ideas it’s elegantly written and intelligent. But on stage it’s all too well reflected in the stripped-back setting of designer Jess Curtis: large, spacious, unornamented but without much sense of life or individuality.

These stage characters seem created to have the author’s moral debate, the carefully planted contradictions in each of their lives seeming facile and contrived. There’s a continuous air of conscious shaping of what they say. No-one has any private, or noticeable emotional independence from the course of ideas. Any action (and there’s not much) seems there to occasion more discussion, rather than the talk emerging from the lies of believably independent characters.

The three actors in Laurie Sansom’s conscientious production do well until later in the second act when they can fall into generalised emotional expostulation and gesturing. Jamie Parker’s ruffled, well-intentioned Paul contrasts Robert Gwilym’s Victor, tall and confident of stride, voice and firm of alternative opinion concerning recovery from alcoholism.

Leanne Best has the toughest job as Elsa, who is – predictably in a Hare play – strong, articulate and sexy, At the same time she seems more contrived in the writing than the men; an idea of a woman, made to measure for the space the playwright wants her to fit, and given to defining herself in terms of relationships with the two men, reporting heftily on what her husband’s done for her.

Best handles the problem the female equivalent of manfully. And Sansom does well by the script till the actorish mannerisms in the later scenes. But they’re hardly surprising; the script gives a cast little to go on in creating the sense of real people caught-up in a situation.

Elsa Quinn: Leanne Best.
Victor Quinn: Robert Gwilym.
Paul Peplow: Jamie Parker.

Director: Laurie Sansom.
Designer: Jess Curtis.
Lighting: Anna Watson.
Sound: Aadrienne Quartly.

2010-03-08 00:40:01

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