The Theatreguide.London Review
Trafalgar Studios Spring 2006
Bernard and Adrien are business partners and best friends until Bernard discovers that his pal belongs to a club - actually just a bunch of guys who get together for dinner once a month - that he didn't even know about.
Curious, jealous, obsessive about getting into the club himself, Bernard almost destroys the friendship and radically affects both of their lives.
On that outline some authors might have built a farce of escalating insanity, others a dark exposure of the fragility of friendship and of both men's psyches.
Fabrice Roger-Lacan's short play (here in a translation by Christopher Campbell) seems to want to go both ways, but only half-heartedly.
The result is neither quite as continuously and increasingly funny as a farce must be, nor brave enough to delve beyond the slightest hints of darkness.
And so it is only intermittently funny and slightly pathetic to watch Bernard's obsession grow, with much of both coming from Robert Bathurst's inventive way of finding new and different ways to be whiny and needy.
And, beyond that neediness, there are only brief glimpses of unacknowledged horrors, as when Nicolas Tennant occasionally shows Adrien's calm sanity cracking ever so slightly.
It is not just that this is a French play about male friendship that conjures up comparisons to Yasmina Reza's Art. While I was never as impressed with that play as some, it was both much funnier and much darker than this.
Members Only is a pleasant and entertaining ninety minutes, and its pleasantness is a mark of its limitations.
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