by Edward Bond.
Lyric Theatre Lyric Square King Street W6 0QL To 5 November 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm & 2 Nov 1.30pm.
Audio-described 25 Oct.
Captioned 27 Oct.
Post-show Discussion 25 Oct.
Runs 3hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0871 22 117 26.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 October.
Tough drama with remorseless integrity.
It’s a blank world, where people stumble through indeterminate lives. A place of silence filled more with noise than communication. A baby cries and nobody does anything. Later, mother doses it with aspirin, then leaves it in the park during a fit of anger.
Where two lads have been quietly fishing. Their mates come along, with nothing to do. The baby’s pram becomes the fulcrum for their boredom and the annoyance they engender. Which leads to the notorious scene in Edward Bond’s 1965 play.
If someone had tended to the baby earlier. If it hadn’t been drugged into blankness. If their lives hadn’t been so blank. Possibilities pile up.
Despite outbreaks of noise, silence rules in the south London room where the play’s mostly set. Saved starts with opportunistic sex between Len and Pam. But Len combines sexual desire with determination to act well; three hours later he’s given the play’s final, fragile expression of hope.
The opposite is represented by the older generation in the house where he goes for sex and stays on as lodger. Harry has withdrawn into himself, while Mary transfers anger onto her daughter.
Sean Holmes’ production catches it all, taking screaming anger as far as it can go, contrasting long silences with eventual outbursts; the baby-killing has the energy of a furious carnival after near-silent suppression.
Throughout, silence speaks volumes, while shouted contests merely express pent-up fury. Eventually Harry emerges from his silent retreat, furiously hacking bread, and Mary from blanking-out life, bringing domestic rage over something apparently trivial.
Designer Paul Wills’ blank walls make park and house mirror each other, the latter’s wall silently descending prison-like for each home scene, after furniture’s been laid-out by cast and stage-management together.
Saved’s toughness lies less in its famous moment of death than in the remorseless destruction of its characters’ humanity by life. Morgan Watkins’ ever-hopeful, yet often angered Len, Liz Saville’s young Pam, her fury exacerbated by hopeless desire, Calum Callaghan’s calm Fred provoked to violence, Susan Brown and Michael Feast as the failed older generation – in fact the whole cast – catch Bond’s world magnificently.
Mary: Susan Brown.
Fred: Calum Callaghan.
Harry: Michael Feast.
Barry: Bradley Gardner.
Mike: Joel Gillman.
Pete: Tom Padley.
Pam: Liz Saville.
Colin: Billy Seymour.
Len: Morgan Watkins.
Liz: Monsay Whitney.
Director: Sean Holmes.
Designer Paul Wills.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound: Nick Manning.
Voice/Dialect coach: Penny Dyer.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Ashley Scott-Layton.