By David Auburn.
2 Bath Road, London W4 1LW to 24 October.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 5 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8995 6035.
Review: William Russell 3 October.
A well acted rewarding revival that stimulates the mind.
This is a strongly cast production of David Auburn’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize and Tony award winning play which was subsequently turned into an equally lauded film in 2005 directed by John Madden who had also directed the London premiere at the Donmar in 2002.
Sebastien Blanc’s direction is a little bit lacking in pace, but that should improve as the run goes along and it is not his fault that the structure of the play, a series of scenes including flashbacks, requires the stage managers to do some rapid retrieval of discarded props in between.
It is, for all that, a well constructed piece with a splendid first act close which leaves one wanting to know what happens next.
Catherine (Julia Papp) lives with her father Robert (Tim Hardy) in his run down clapboard house on the campus of a Chicago university. He was once a brilliant mathematician, but has succumbed to dementia and she has abandoned her own college career to take care of him. A young mathematics professor is looking through the great man’s notebook, which he has kept religiously over the years, to see whether he has done any more research. He dies, Catherine, a troubled and hot tempered young woman, is scared that she may in time go the same way as her father. She is confronted with her tough elder sister, Claire (Mary-Ann Cafferkey) who wants to sell the house and for Catherine to come and live with her and her husband in New York where they can look after her. There is also the problem of Hal (Kim Hardy), the mathematician going through the notebooks, who may be a nerd, but is one Catherine fancies no end and whose motives are suspect.
The play is about what one inherits from one’s parents, about discovering new things, about relationships between siblings, about the fear everyone has of what the future might hold. It is funny, moving ultimately uplifting and the cast play well. Julia Papp is tough, but vulnerable as the scared Catherine, and Mary-Ann Cafferkey gives a glittering performance as the awful, insensitive, but actually well meaning, sister. Tim Hardy is wonderfully patriarchal as the great man, sometimes brilliant, sometimes plain crazy, and Kim Hardy makes Hal both a nerd and a fanciable fellow – Claire casts an approving eye over him – which is no mean feat. The result is a rewarding and stimulating piece of theatre.
Robert: Tim Hardy.
Catherine: Julia Papp.
Hal: Kim Hardy.
Claire: Mary-Ann Cafferkey.
Director: Sebastian Blanc.
Set Design: Michael Leopold.
Lighting Design: Ben Morrison.
Composer: Chris Roe.
Accent Coach: Emma Vane.