by Simon Gray.
Theatre Royal Theatre Square NG1 5ND
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 24th August 2015.
An excellent finale to Nottingham’s Thriller Season.
From the start you know Stage Struck is a thriller, but not a Durbridge. Sure, we’re in the Home Counties; and there’s that sofa centre stage. But for once the alcohol supply, this time upstage-left, is strangely under-utilised.
Proceedings hit the ground running. Failed actor/stage manager Roger, a house husband for more successful actress wife Anne (an excellent Angie Smith), is putting the finishing touches to a meal he’s cooked for both of them when a crazed-looking bloke enters, gun in hand.
The evening is heavy with contradictions. There’s a lot of reference to ethnic stereotyping, which is deliberately broken down when it comes to Herman (Robert Laughlin in a super performance). A rough-looking Australian with an outrageously broad accent who appears to be a literary nincompoop, he’s currently doing a Ph.D on Henry James. And there are lots of adverse nods to a growing political correctness movement, and near-knuckle references to camp homosexuality.
The only dud line in Simon Gray’s wordy, witty, quietly erudite, and satirical script comes when Anne say to Robert “We’ve got to talk”.
The period isn’t specified; but it’s pre-mobile. Given the title, and the fact that two of its characters are stage types it’s unsurprising that the play is highly meta-theatrical. At one point Robert (John Goodrum) says, “You’re not leaving the stage yet Widdecombe!”; and he spends a lot of time arranging the other characters on the set.
Goodrum’s is the stand-out turn. He has to ensure that we can never tell whether his character is or is not acting, and he succeeds. Bogus psycho-analyst Widdecombe is well done by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, especially in his frightened coward bits.
There’s a splendid living-room set, significantly with a switch-controlled opening into the attic. Equally significantly, the background music includes Mozart’s Requiem.
Stage Struck has so many twists and turns that, by the end – and this is a criticism – the audience is almost reduced to not caring who’s done what to whom. But it makes an excellent finale to Nottingham’s Thriller Season.
Robert: John Goodrum.
Herman: Robert Laughlin.
Anne: Angie Smith.
Widdecombe: Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas.
Director: Karen Henson.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Keith Tuttle.
Sound: David Gilbrook.