PLAY HOUSE & DEFINITELY THE BAHAMAS
by Martin Crimp.
Orange Tree Theatre 1 Clarence Street TW9 2SA To 21 April 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm & 29 March, 5, 12 April 2.30pm (+ Post-show Discussion).
Audio-described 27 March, 31 March 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8940 3633.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 March.
Definitely plays worth a viewing.
Celebrating forty Orange Tree years in Richmond, across two buildings, Artistic Director Sam Walters is presenting revivals and new plays by contemporary writers his theatre has championed in various ways: Vaclav Havel, David Lewis, Torben Betts, James Saunders – and Martin Crimp, whom Walters found in his radio days.
The earlier of these one-actors, Definitely the Bahamas (1986) returns to its radio-drama origins in Crimp’s own production. The actors playing middle-aged suburban couple Milly and Frank sit at opposite corners of the stage, each at a table, with script and microphone in front of them.
Each sits abstracted when the other is speaking, the separation of two radio actors or of two characters in a house together, their words cast aside to an unseen auditor – originally, the listener at home, no doubt; here someone other than the technician absorbed in following the script and making occasional sound effects (itself a neat reference to the live effects Walters recurrently incorporates into his farce revivals).
With memories and references to a grown-up son (unseen) and a lodger, Marijke, who on radio especially must have a Pinter-like mystery, appearing occasionally then disappearing into an ethereal void, Kate Fahy and Ian Gelder provide a sense of normality edged with ambiguity.
Crimp’s new piece, Play House, makes Bahamas seem something from a less urgent age. The formalities of a sound-studio are matched by the ritualistic care with which actors Obi Abili and Lily James lay their properties neatly along a bench. Across two opposite sides of the stage, these benches become a Hers and His of the characters’ home.
Definitely a generation younger than the pair we’ll meet in Bahamas, they contrast Bahamas‘ languid, seated delivery with quick-fire movement and energy as the properties are successively removed, ending in an untidy heap on the floor. Such is life.
Ambiguity and uncertainty leak through every scene, whether triumphantly dionysiac or seriously troubled, with the neighbouring world adding to the unease. Abili, his Simon intense in seriousness or jest, and James, whose Katrina constructs objects but is emotionally volatile, fling themselves intensely into each mood-swing of a scene.
Simon: Obi Abili.
Katrina: Lily James.
Definitely the Bahamas:
Milly: Kate Fahy.
Frank: Ian Gelder.
Marijke: Lily James.
Sound Technician: Obi Abili.
Director: Martin Crimp.
Designer: Sam Dowson.
Lighting: John Harris.
Movement: Joseph Alford.
Assistant designer: Katy Mills.