by Alena Smith.
Southwark Playhouse Shipwright’s Yard, corner of Tooley Street/Bermondsey Street SE1 2TF To 3 July 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Post-show Discussion 23 June.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 June.
Comedy with feelings doesn’t quite marry-up.
It’s fitting a company called NYLon Productions should bring this New York comedy to London. Young composer Alexis, hard-at-work on an opera for toy piano and other unconventional instruments, finds working in the crowded apartment she shares with Louis tough-going. If only she can grab a grant, so she can afford a studio.
The grant, like a lot more money, seems in the gift of Thomasina, about to become a perfect couple with clean-cut Julian. But, just when this pair descend for dinner (vegan Julian considerately brings his own in Tupperware, as he’s learned to do most places) another part of Alexis’s life walks in, complete with bicycle. This is Lee, formerly Natalie, when she was Alexis’s partner’s lover years back in France, but now taken-up with lesbianism, enjoying a fling with Alexis only the previous night/early morning.
Lee is fleeing (or perhaps is still accompanied by) bedbugs from home. Except the bedbugs turn out to be a red herring, while Lee might not even be that much of a lesbian. It’s a crazy twenty-something world, in other words, and that’s without Alexis’s real worry – the declining state of her pet parrot, which seems intent on plucking all its feathers out, much as the humans wear each other, and themselves, away.
Amid the comic action come pauses for thoughts, including time-out scenes on the balcony where smoking, reflection and recrimination go hand-in-hand. If Stephen Sondheim set it to music it might appear very witty indeed. As it is, Anna G Jones’ production doesn’t have the force of farce, nor an apt tone to harmonise the play’s serious and comic sections.
Nor do her actors help bridge the moods. Emily Bevan has a neat enough comic concern and sense of urban neurosis, keeping her character in the purely comic realm, while Jamel Rodriguez provides her partner with a sustaining solidity that steers clear of comic pointing. Claire Cordier makes Lee’s introspective and comic moments cohere, but Julian and Thomasina remain peripheral characters – as Smith may have intended.
Overall, it’s some way from a turkey but never quite flying fully into focus.
Alexis: Emily Bevan.
Louis: Jamel Rodriguez.
Lee: Claire Cordier.
Julian: Paul Westwood.
Thomasina: Juliet Crawford.
Director: Anna G Jones.
Lighting: Will Reynolds.
Sound: Ben Hillyard.
Composer: Elspeth Brooke.
Costume: Ellan Parry.
Dialect coach: Jamel Rodriguez.