WET WEATHER COVER
by Oliver Cotton.
King’s Head Theatre 115 Upper Street N1 1QN To 21 February 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 209 0326.
www.kingsheadtheatre.org (£2/£2.50 booking fee by ‘phone and online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 January.
Neither characterful nor comic enough.
It’s hardly surprising a play by distinguished actor Oliver Cotton should be about two actors. American Brad has the star-syndrome in his eyes, though on the shoot for the British historical epic he’s filming the contractual right to a motor-home is interpreted in terms of the leakily shabby trailer where he and jobbing Brit actor Stuart hole-up early one morning while rain holds back filming of Brad’s next big scene.
All this on a Spanish location indicated by runner Pepe, whose excitable speech is translated for Brad by Stuart. Which might partly explain why the English thesp’s allowed into the mighty Yank’s temporary abode while the rest of the wet weather cover – actors called for alternative filming when it’s too rainy to do intended exterior scenes – huddle in a nearby tent.
A number of dramatic ideas wash around; the odd couple awkwardly co-existing, the revelation of hidden character weakness (one per actor-character); the alternation of comedy and tension. Some of Cotton’s scenes develop interesting ideas. And there’s a good sense of the chaos of film-making going on outside.
But the piece doesn’t hang together. The action’s divided by blackouts into several scenes, and there’s limited sense of continuity. Variations in the men’s relationship and status call for unlikely switches. It’s as if each scene exists in isolation, despite a number of references back.
Kate Fahy’s production does little to counter this, or to help the actors achieve any consistency of style. Michael Brandon’s realistic enough as the tough American guy, demanding his own way. But his energy is generalised, and eases off for only a few reflective moments. Steve Furst gives the undemanding, quietly patient Stuart a suitable low-key realism. But neither character is sufficiently strongly-etched with the result that their relationship hardly seems to matter.
There are moments of humour, and an interesting discussion about Shakespeare and verse-acting. There’s a rare vivid moment when the quarrelling couple come together in reciting a speech from Richard II. But, valiantly as the actors, including Pepe Balderrama in some energetically comic eruptions, seek to strike fire, the play remains a damp squib.
Pepe: Pepe Balderrama.
Brad: Michael Brandon.
Stuart: Steve Furst.
Director: Kate Fahy.
Designer/Costume: Tanya McCallin.
Lighting: Emma Chapman.
Sound: Tim Middleton.
Fight director: Terry King.
Assistant director: Jackie McLoughlin.
Assistant designer: Arthur de Borman.