by Anthony Clark.

Palace Theatre To 28 April 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 24 April.
Pre-show Talk 25 April 6.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 01934 225671.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 April.

Family drama that’s striking at its best.

If you don’t want to know what Anthony Clark is up to in his new play, then read neither this nor any review, nor the theatre’s publicity, until you’ve seen it. That’s how I approached it and there was an extra pleasure to suspecting, then realising what Clark was about.

It is, in any case, a piece that can stand on its own, but an awareness of its origins helps throw characters and events into relief. It is 2010, in a large family guest-house at seaside resort Fairwold (I’d think Southwold – anyway, not Blackpool or Bognor). Things are a bit run down and a family conference been called, bringing redundant banker Lawrence home (Michael Lumsden, with silver-haired confidence and trophy wife plus stepson in tow).

He contrasts the title character, disruptive Dave, ploughing in to scenes with fiery temper and disordered hair. Once a famous photographer, he gave it up when his radical ideas became enmeshed in advertising brands. Rollicking around the stage, barging into conversations, Richard O’Callaghan makes him an evident social disaster, yet one who can’t be morally ignored.

He also contrasts smiling family friend Anthony, tactful and practical in Justin Avoth’s controlled performance – someone whose technical knowhow seems likely to help finances with the tourist trade by putting the guest-house on the virtual map.

Clark picks up the theme of man despoiling the environment, and shifts it by suggestions, in Anthony and in a final sound and visual revelation of the coastal scene, that nature might one day overwhelm the sadness and disappointments that mar the existence of David, but also other members of the family, especially Sophie, her hardworking, unglamorous life registering with the unvarnished truth Penny Layden always brings to a performance

There’s too much information at the start, with too little action to focus concentration, and some ideas don’t convince – reluctant people surely wouldn’t submit to David’s revived photographic impulse. But there are beautifully-designed moments, including the movement of chairs, clearly and comically expressing character relationships

Still room then to shift some of the dramatic furniture and give David (including David) a sharper focus.

Sophie Tiller: Penny Layden.
Caroline Tiller: Penny Beaumont.
Anthony: Justin Avoth.
Althea: Beryl King.
David Tiller: Richard O’Callaghan.
Lawrence: Michael Lumsden.
Amelia: Camilla Power.
Jason: Hugh John.

Director: Anthony Clark.
Designer: Ruari Murchison.
Lighting: Tim Lutkin.
Sound: Ed Borgnis.
Fight director: Alison de Burgh.
Assistant director: Denise Astorino.

2012-04-22 23:27:19

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