by John Godber.
Hull Truck Theatre 50 Ferensway HU2 8LB To 14 November.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2pm.
TICKETS: 01482 323638.
Stephen Joseph Theatre (The Round) Westborough YO11 1JW 16-21 November 2015.
Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat 7.30pm; Thu 7pm Mat Thu 1.30pm; Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01723 370541.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 October at New Victoria Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme.
One idea in search of a drama.
Plenty of poles are taken apart in John Godber’s new play, as a scaffolding-tower on stage starts being taken down in the second act. And there’s a Polish worker in the three-man team supposedly at work mending a leaking roof over the stage where the action – inasmuch as there is any – takes place.
But the main polarity lies between the workers and the theatricals – harassed manager Grahame and Abi, rehearsing her new one-woman show. For the workmen, she’s a famous face from the tele and a body they’d like to see more of. In, as she doesn’t get to put it, their dreams.
This isn’t so much The Play that Goes Wrong as a play that goes nowhere. And while some themes suddenly arise after the dramatic equivalent of the tea-breaks the gang are peculiarly adept at taking, they hold less water than the damaged roof – which itself receives no visible attention.
Grahame despairs of the workers his socialism means he should want in his theatre ever turning-up there, while everything that might be deduced about Abi’s show (it’s neither rehearsed nor revealed in performance) suggests it isn’t aimed at the audience these workers might provide.
They have some barbed comments, of the sort playwrights like writing, on theatre, largely from their provocative leader Phil, while Polish Jan performs a fully-clothed sex-dance on the scaffold-tower. He doesn’t seem to want to, but the others egg him on, and it serves to show the cultural width covered by the idea of performance.
Meanwhile, Phil sits amiably drinking, eating sandwiches and making comments, often surprisingly sensible ones; the type with which the unassumingly taciturn can surprise others.
As usual, Godber has a highly efficient cast. But not the dramaturgical energy to turn his basic idea into a drama, as opposed to a spun-out dialogue.
Unlike Grahame and Abi, he has done a lot to bring wider audiences to the theatre, and has some rightly popular plays behind him. So it’s sad to see the author of September in the Rain, teechers and April in Paris unloading this inferior material onto an audience.
Grahame: Rob Hudson.
Pete: Adrian Hood.
Jan: Frazer Hamill.
Phil: Keith Hukin.
Abi: Ruby Thompson.
Director: John Godber.
Designer/Lighting: Graham Kirk.