by Glenn Chandler based on the novel by Angus Stewart.
Above the Stag Theatre Arch 17 Miles Street SW8 1RZ To 14 June 2014.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
Review: William Russell 27 May,
Beware of cute choirboys.
Glenn Chandler’s play, which surfaced first in a one act version on the Edinburgh Fringe last year, has been turned into a two act script by the author, who also directs. Based on Angus Stewart’s cult novel of 1968, it is about a nineteen year old Oxbridge music student who falls in love with a fourteen year old Cathedral choir boy.
It can be seen as a rather touching gay love story, but in this staging comes across as about the relentless pursuit of an older, vain and touchy man by a predatory child whose only interest, apart from getting presents, is in acquiring the older man – and who will do anything to get him. It is a fascinating reversal of all those newspaper stories of today about older teachers seducing pupils and in that sense is really interesting. The underage pupil is the seducer and the adult the abused.
It is set in 1966 when aspiring composer David Rogers meets choirboy Antony Sandel and the pair embark on a love affair which seems to consist of Sandel taking and David giving, while David’s best friend Bruce, a good Catholic boy, stands by playing the Eve Arden role and uttering worldly-wise wisecracks.
Chandler’s direction is fluent, he keeps this three hander moving briskly, there is a clever set all topsy-turvy bookcases and cloister windows by David Shields, some beautifully chosen music, and the performances are very good indeed.
Joseph Lindoe makes the arrogant David, who seems incapable of saying no and is oblivious to the fact his best friend loves him, into an ultimately touching victim, Calum Fleming delivers Bruce’s wisecracks with style, and Ashley Cousins is impressively vicious as the predatory Sandel.
But the behaviour of the unseen adults passes belief – nobody seems to see anything wrong in the relationship – as is the dénouement, and Cousins’ performance lacks charm. One has to see why David should fall for this grasping little mite. It makes an interesting evening, but maybe the book read better under the bedclothes by torchlight, which is where Chandler first came across it.
Antony Sandel: Ashley Cousins.
David Rogers: Joseph Lindoe.
Bruce Lang: Calum Fleming.
Director: Glenn Chandler.
Designer: David Shields.
Lighting: Chris Withers.