OVER GARDENS OUT
by Peter Gill.
Riverside Studios (Studio 3) To 6 November 2010.
Tie-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 October.
Sizes up the play without quite getting its measure.
Just as he was about to become famous as the director who rediscovered D H Lawrence’s plays, at the Royal Court Theatre, Peter Gill’s own early script was produced in the Court’s Theatre Upstairs. For all Gill’s sympathy with Lawrence, his own work is very different in its surface inconsequentiality and use of subtext.
Set in a working-class area of Gill’s home city, Cardiff, the play shows two young men, soon revealed as friends. Between the camp manner Jeffry detects in Dennis and his own sadistic impulses, it’s clear they might develop a closer relationship if society allowed them to understand themselves. Instead, they suffer frustration, which Jeffry expresses in verbal and physical violence, Dennis through disruption of his family, particularly his mother.
It’s a cold family home, the parents distant and tetchy. Father’s muttered prayers are taken for a buzzing fly, while mother, caught between anger and care for her son, becomes sick – possibly seriously so.
All the suggestion, the possibilities and unspoken feelings lie beneath and between the words. Sam Brown’s production is clearly aware of this, though the performances tend to catch a general sense of unease or of something that cannot be articulated rather than carrying spectator understanding precisely through each pause and diversionary speech – where the words spoken hide at least as much as they convey.
Yet there are strong aspects – moments such as Calum Calaghan’s Jeffry in the opening scene, when he might be cooing over his own child. He does the ironing but when offered a cup of tea, he leaves his landlady holding the saucer for his convenience.
Later, Jeffry’s seen at the side (where actors stay when not in the scene) replicating the actions of Dennis in a scene with his mother. It enforces the sense of this slicked-back hair, swift moving character as linked to Meilir Rhys Williams’ Dennis, an adolescent suffocated within the family. Kirsten Clark’s Mother is the other focal point, suffering passively in her set ways. And Annemarie Woods’ set, laying-out domestic paraphernalia on warehouse stocking-shelves, provides a visual metaphor for the home that never comes together.
Jeffry: Calum Calaghan.
Mother: Kirsten Clark.
Mrs B: Laura Hiliard.
Dennis: Meilir Rhys Williams.
Father: Dan Starkey.
Director: Sam Brown.
Designer: Annemarie Woods.
Lighting: Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson.
Sound: George Dennis.
Costume: Ameena Kara Callendar.
Assistant director: Cecily Boys.
Assistant designer: Brianna Banales, Daisy MacDonald.
Associate lighting: Nathaniel Seekins.
Assistant costume: Bella Grahy.