Cock Tavern's Edward Bond season continues with his first produced play
from 1962, which proves to be weakly focused and awkwardly structured,
further muddied by particularly poor direction.
play opens with
a group of young farm workers hanging about after work, trying to think
of anything to do, the only minimal pleasures in their lives seemingly
the occasional drink and occasional local cricket match.
play seems to
be narrowing its attention to the star of the cricket, but abruptly
drops him to turn to one of the others, who is in a marriage that is no
more satisfying than anything else in his life.
but then with growing enthusiasm, he begins visiting and caring for an
old man of the village, and it looks like his life is finding some
value, but an abrupt, offstage and never explained piece of violence
brings an end to any hopes.
first and basic
failing of the play is that it doesn't seem to have any point. A
programme note says it is about 'the decline of rural society in the
face of urban advances', but no connection is ever made between the
farm work (except that it's hard and boring) and either the general
glumness or the violent ending, and there is no suggestion that things
were ever better - the only photograph in the old man's house is one he
bought in a shop decades ago.
why the relationship between the younger and older men suddenly turns
sour, but it does not seem to be 'the decline of rural society'. So all
we have is a young man who happens to be a farm worker and happens to
be in an unhappy marriage and happens to befriend an older man and
happens to do something violent, none of these elements appearing to be
connected in any clear way.
unfair to the playwright, because director Conrad Blakemore has done
little to clarify and much to get in the way of the play.
wavering accent aside, this production offers no sense of time or
place, and little of character or reality. In the opening scenes the
actors stand around, their internal lights turned off, until a
longer-than-expected pause alerts one to his cue and he turns on,
blurts out his line, and then turns off again.
scenes have no
pacing, rhythm or forward momentum, and the actor in what eventually
becomes the central role plays each moment in a vacuum, with no sense
of how one leads to another or what is happening to him internally -
and without that emotional arc, that clear line of how he gets from
here to there and ultimately to that out-of-nowhere there, the play
just doesn't exist.
will note that
I have not named any actors. They are all clearly following orders, and
those failures of this revival that are not inherent in the script must
all be blamed on the director.
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- The Pope's Wedding - Cock Tavern 2010