by Eugene O’Neill.

Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 1 September 2013.
7pm 17, 21, 22, 24-26 June, 1-4, 9, 10, 16-20, 22-24 July, 9, 10, 12, 19-22, 27-31 Aug.
1pm 22, 26 June, 3, 10, 17, 20, 24 July, 10, 22, 29, 31 Aug.
1.30pm 23 June, 11 Aug, 1 Sept.
Audio-described: 10 Aug 1pm (+ Touch Tour 11.30am), 12 Aug.
Captioned 2 July, 11 Aug 11 1.30pm.
Runs: 3hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 15 June.

A weird, flawed but wonderful play, handsomely revived.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on – and to a very large extent, Eugene O’Neill’s 1928 Pulitzer prize winner Strange Interlude amounts to something very similar.

An extended ‘memory’ play in which ghosts, one particularly, cast long shadows, at the end, “good old Charlie” (Charles Edwards, impeccable as the starchy, mother-bound best friend) finally gets the girl in his arms for whom he’s been craving most of his adult life, Nina (Anne-Marie Duff).

Yet as they look back, everything that has preceded that moment seems as nothing but a strange interlude: the loss of her first love, mental breakdown, marriage, abortion, lover, childbirth nor death of husband, all are as nothing to that moment.

A superficial glance at the roll call of Nina’s woes might indicate a typical O’Neill tragedy.
Yet here his melodramatic tendency is leavened with a lighter touch – a stream of asides expressing interior thoughts as if in self-reflecting self-mockery allowing audiences an unsually candid and often very amusing insight into O’Neill’s struggling characters.

Experimental for its time, it’s a bold gambit which, on the whole, pays off in Simon Godwin’s stylish production, evoked by designer Soutra Gilmour with a series of stunning revolving interiors.

Godwin never loses sight of the wry comedy playing alongside the over-heated passions of O’Neill’s strange, ungainly, at times plodding and at other times haunting drama. What is `real’ and what is lasting about our lives? O’Neill seems to ask. Sexual love, powerful though it be, is as nothing to the maternal drive. Or, touching on the misogynistic, the manipulative wiles of the female.

Anne-Marie Duff’s Nina is neither quite modern enough to leave hearth and home like Ibsen’s Nora, nor entirely passive. At one crucial moment, she looks around and declares: “my three men” – four if you count the child she has subsequently had by her lover and doctor friend, `Ned’, Edmund Darrell.

The moment is charged with wry humour, as are Charlie’s vacillations and fear of commitment towards Nina. `What is wrong with me?’, he exclaims to our great amusement.
A weird, flawed but wonderful play, handsomely revived.

Charles Marsden: Charles Edwards.
Professor Henry Leeds: Patrick Drury.
Nina Leeds: Anne-Marie Duff.
Edmund Darrell: Darren Pettie.
Sam Evans: Jason Watkins.
Mrs Amos Evans: Geraldine Alexander.
Gordon Evans, aged 11: Elliot Day/Theo Fewell/Max Stephens.
Gordon Evans: Wilf Scolding.
Madeline Arnold: Emily Plumtree.

Director: Simon Godwin.
Designer: Soutra Gilmour.
Lighting: Guy Hoare.
Music: Michael Bruce.
Movement: Jonathan Goddard.
Sound: Christopher Shutt.
Company Voice work: Jeannette Nelson.
Dialect coach: Judith Windsor.

First performance of this production of Strange Interlude was in the Lyttelton Theatre London, 4 June 2013.
World Premiere of Strange Interlude was at the John Golden Theater New York on 30 January 1928.

2013-06-17 17:00:51

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