by Annie Baker music & lyrics by Michael Chernus, Patch Darragh, Erin Gann.
Bush Theatre Shepherds Bush Green W12 8QD To 16 October 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm
Audio-described 2 Oct 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 September.
Surprising proximity of different lifestyles.
It only took a wardrobe to reach Narnia, and here Evan, neat, scrubbed, polite to the point of embarrassment at any problem, as good a New England lad as could be found, with a Jewish mother, only has to step from the café where he has a summer job to find himself in alien territory. For the backyard’s been taken over by laid-back latter-day hippies Jasper and KJ.
Peacable as can be, these two, taciturn and laconic, strum a guitar, roll a joint, quote Bukowski poems and seem to have no road to be on. One’s vanished by the end, the other declares Evan’s desperate strum-and-sing account of ‘If I Had A Hammer’ “Awesome” (as he does most things), telling the lad he’s “going to go far”.
We know who he won’t meet if he does. But going anywhere isn’t the point of Annie Baker’s non-judgmental mood-piece. Like two of its characters, it just hangs out. Perhaps it’s a strength that on first viewing at least it’s not apparent how carefully structured it might be. It’s certainly strong territory for scalpel-scrupulous direction like that of Peter Gill.
Without a stopwatch it’s impossible to say if he’s followed Baker’s instruction that a third of the playing time should be silence, with minimum lengths for Pauses and Silences that reveal the late Harold Pinter to have been quite a slouch in this regard. Certainly, Gill ensures a sense that time, if not actually stopping, is an irrelevance as Evan, the only person with any sense of forward motion, becomes attracted to the pair’s way.
Gill’s way with detail (he famously became famous decades ago with a trio of D H Lawrence plays at the Royal Court, where the mine-community settings and intense relationships were highly praised) helps space-out these backyard scenes, with their suitably corrugated isolation in Lucy Osborne’s settings for this intimate in-the-round production. Mackenzie Crook and Ralf Little (nasally-abused and staring at the sun for therapy) are soft-core life-drifters, contrasted by Olly Alexander’s fresh-faced Evan, intrigued at their ways, while his eyes flash guiltily towards the café even when off-duty.
Evan: Olly Alexander.
Jasper: Mackenzie Crook.
KJ: Ralf Little.
Director: Peter Gill.
Designer: Lucy Osborne.
Lighting: David Holmes.
Sound/Composer: Terry Davies.
Dialect coach: Mary Howland.
Assistant director: Barney Norris.
Associate sound: Tom Gibbons.