The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted
by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others
by streaming new shows. And we take the opportunity to explore
other vintage productions preserved online. Until things return to
normal we review the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.
Original Theatre Online Spring 2022
two-hander is a play that is not about what it seems to be about through
most of its length, but when it finally tells us what it actually is
about, it packs a real emotional wallop.
may go on a bit too long, but it ultimately serves a powerful play.
middle-aged man returns from his father's funeral to encounter the
ghost, memory or fantasy of the older man. The location is Dad's packed
wine cellar, where the ardent oenophile invites his son to open a bottle
of particularly fine vintage in his memory.
is that son is a recovering alcoholic, twenty-five years sober but still
afraid to try even a sip for fear of a relapse.
bulk of the play consists of father encouraging (You've proven you're
cured), cajoling (Do it for me) and tempting (Just sniff the aroma),
while son wavers.
at just under an hour's running time, this back-and-forth goes on a
little too long, risking the audience losing interest, while we are also
pulled back and forth in our sympathies to a point that may make us
rebel against the manipulation.
the play abruptly shifts gears – to avoid a spoiler I'll just say that
the real question is not whether the son will try the wine but why the
question arises at this moment – the effect is powerful and the
accompanying revelations totally convincing.
that play, the one The Red really is, leaves a strong and haunting
impression of having captured an important and convincing truth.
directed by Charlotte Peters, both actors in this video version have the
challenge of playing characters whose psychology, and our attitude
toward them, keep changing.
the son, Sam Alexander convincingly shows us a man torn between desire
and fear without ever quite losing our sympathy even as we wish he would
finally make up his mind.
Alexander has the tougher challenge of making a coherent whole out of a
character who is sometimes loving father and sometimes demonic tempter,
and while every individual moment works, the pieces don't quite fit
The Original Theatre Company likes to believe they are creating a new hybrid of live theatre and film with their online productions. But this wholly polished multiple-camera recording, with its limited action and primary use of close-ups and two-shots, has the look and feel of first-rate television drama.
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