by Michael Wall.
Old Red Lion 418 St John Street EC1V 4NJ To 27 October 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Captioned 18 Oct, 20 Oct 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4307.
Review: Francis Grin 3 October.
Suburban disturbance vividly revived.
As we enter the theatre, we see an average looking patio with garden pebbles on the floor and two simple wooden benches. The entire scenario seems very familiar, ordinary and comfortable. Yet, as characters Colin and Tony sip on their Heinekens and chip into some strained conversation we soon realize that this isn’t just some patio in Ealing, this is a suburban hell.
Michael Wall’s Women Laughing (first seen in at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in 1992, just after the author’s death) finally takes the focus off the ‘female hysteric’ and flips it onto the man, as we explore the psychosis of Colin and Tony, two ordinary middle-class males who gradually lose their sanity and are forced into care homes. While the men’s insanity seems to be triggered by their wives, it’s not exactly clear what these women are doing to cause this. When asked why Tony obsesses about killing his wife he simply answers “because she’s there”.
Director Tuenkie van der Sluijs captures the tension of this environment, one which is always at the edge of its glass – calm, yet about to tip over. Something as simple as Colin throwing his drink into his wife’s face suddenly captures the violence lurking beneath what might otherwise seem to be a perfectly ordinary lunch date.
The only drawback of the production is that the unbearable monotony of this world sometimes becomes strenuous to watch on stage. Yet the momentum’s steadily carried by a stellar cast, including Mark Rose as Colin, who is constantly intriguing to watch. During the final moments, the play’s honestly suddenly hits home as the characters fall into a slow dance routine to Saturday Night Fever. Here is a group of people who simply long for an easier time in their relationships. All in all, Women Laughing makes a trip to The Old Red Lion worth while.
Colin: Mark Rose.
Tony: Mark Sands.
Stephanie: Sally Rose.
Maddy: Holly Clark.
Director: Teunkie van der Sluijs.
Designer/Costume: Anne Gry Skovdal.
Lighting: Frans Friis.
Sound: Emma Bertmark.
Choreographer: Ria Whitton.
Assistant director: Rachel Illingworth.