by Sarah Wooley.
Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU To 12 January 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed 2.30pm Sat & 24 Dec 3pm no evening performance 24 Dec no performance 25 Dec.
Audio-described 5 Jan 3pm (sold out).
Captioned 18 Dec.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 December.
Patience brings rewards when watching story of an outburst of impatience.
It takes time for Sarah Wooley’s new play to establish itself. Audiences nowadays expect a quick succession of scenes, jigsaw pieces to fit together, time elapses and rewinds, or playwrights whipping away apparent reality to reveal worlds within worlds.
All this makes us anticipate new revelations, impatient to be surprised into a new understanding by the playwright’s stratagem. Wooley provides surprises – a neatish red-herring about interval time (Terry Johnson’s direction and Colin Towns’ score egging us on) and a significant character revelation towards the end, for which Maureen Lipman’s half-abstracted, half-impulsive performance has prepared the ground.
But the movement is linear, rather than sashaying back and forth. Set in 2008, it shows Joyce between two funerals, at the first solemn as expected, at the other hysterical. The same age as Paul McCartney, she ends with a kind of resurrection, leaving those of her family who have not gone before.
Many a rebellious teenager has done the same in dramas over the decades. Here, youthful rebellion has dwindled into her son-in-law’s indolence, while her daughter Fiona aged 42 and about to give birth again, is an example of stress toppling into self-indulgence.
Determined to escape the clutches of her relatives, a chance encounter with a stranger demanding much less money brings a new start. Joyce becomes an older Nora Helmer leaving the doll’s house she’s long endured for fear of something worse.
Whatever the familiar elements, Wooley provides something individual and thought-provoking. She is aptly rewarded with lived-in, thoroughly convincing performances.
Joyce: Maureen Lipman.
Fiona: Tracy-Ann Oberman.
Pearl: Helen Ryan.
Graham: Timothy Watson.
Candy: Nadia Clifford.
Man 1/Man 2: Geoffrey Freshwater.
Director: Terry Johnson.
Designer: Tim Shortall.
Lighting: Rick Fisher.
Sound: John Leonard.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Video: Ingi Bekk.
Choreographer: Lynne Page.
Wig designer: Richard Mawbey.
Associate director: Mel Hillyard.