Tomorrow at Noon, 4****, London

Three one act plays by Morna Young, Emma Hardin & Jenny Ayres

Jermyn Street Theatre, 16B Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST to 15 May 2018.
7, 8, 14 & 15 May at 7.30pm Mat 8 & 15 May 3.30pm. In repertory with Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30.
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 287 2875.
Review: William Russell 1 May.

Three witty and intriguing pieces inspired by the Master.

Tom Littler, Jermyn Street’s artistic director, whose sparkling production of nine of the Coward plays which make up Tonight at 8.30 is currently running decided to gild the lily as it were and get three contemporary writers to give plays responding to the Coward plays. The result is three feminist pieces which can stand alone and are hugely entertaining. It proves to be an inspired idea which also gives three actresses a chance to flex their muscles in very different roles.

Smite by Morna Young draws on The Astonished Heart, the one about the psychiatrist trapped between two women, not the best of the Coward plays by any means and comes up with something fresh and challenging. Trisha (Laila Pyne) has come to take over the London flat belonging to he late husband who unexpectedly committed suicide. She lives in Scotland and rarely comes to London, although the marriage was not in trouble as far as she was concerned. But there is an occupant, Allie (Laura Morgan), a young intern working on a magazine who is there on a bed a board basis – in other words when he wants sex she provides it. The confrontation between the two women is fascinating as is the revelation about what probably caused the man to kill himself. It is the most provocative of the three.

In The Thing Itself by Emma Hardin, inspired by Shadow Play, Vic (Elaine Claxton) and Simone (Laila Pyne), middle aged Lesbian partners trapped in a hotel in Iceland – a volcano is erupting – face up to the state of their relationship and left alone Vic is confronted by a much younger woman Hanna (Laura Morgan) who is a figment of her imagination. The result is a fascinating look at the real and the unreal in one’s life although one never quite cares what happens to the couple.

The third play, Glimpse by Jenny Ayres is set in a railway station and relates to Still Life which became Brief Encounter in that it is about people in a place of transit. It is the most rewarding of the three. The background is the rail privatisation of the mid nineties although it is hardly relevant in spite of what Ms Ayres suggests.

On Sundays a bag lady, Mags (Elaine Claxton) spends the day and possibly the night on a bench in New Barnet station waiting for her brother who never comes. The station supervisor Clarke (Laila Pyne) is friendly and lets her be, although the people who run the line are becoming hostile. Mags is joined by a young woman (Laura Morgan), who is drunk after a disastrous night out. Slowly we learn what brought Mags to where she is, why she is as she is, and why the brother is not going to come. It is funny and very sad and Elaine Caxton gives the performance of the evening, although that is not to diminish the skills of the other two players.

The links with Coward are a bit tenuous, but he has at least inspired the three playwrights to come up with finely honed plays which Stella Powell-Jones has directed with a most delicate hand.

Trisha: Laila Pyne.
Allie: Laura Morgan.
The Thing Itself
Simone: Laila Pyne.
Vic: Elaine Claxton.
Hanna: Laura Morgan.
Clarke: Laila Pyne.
Mags: Elaine Claxton.
Woman: Laura Morgan.

Director: Stella Powell-Jones.
Set Designer: Louie Whitemore.
Costume Designer: Emily Stuart.
Lighting Designer: Tim Mascali.
Sound Designer: Tom Attwood.

2018-05-03 10:13:05

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