The Theatreguide.London Review
Story Of Yours
Hopkins' play (best known in its 1973 film version The Offence) is a
classic study of a man in extremis, a veteran police officer so close
to the edge of collapse that he can't be sure of the borders between
the horrible crime at hand and the thousands he's dealt with before,
between his rage at the world that allows such things to happen and his
resentment at an empty marriage and a dead-end career, and ultimately
between himself and the suspect before him.
is clearly meant
to be a harrowing experience for the audience, but it is such a
difficult challenge to any director and actors that it is no great
condemnation of this small fringe production that it can only hint at
the play's intentions.
cop in question
has just beaten the suspect in a series of child rapes and murders, and
we first see him at home as he awaits word on whether the man has died,
and he and his wife discover painfully how very far from each other
they have wandered, so that she can be of no help to him in this
then watch him
being debriefed by a senior officer, in a scene that puts him at the
receiving end of the interrogation process, and then finally flash back
to the deadly encounter with the prisoner.
except perhaps for the first half of the final scene, when he is
confidently exercising his skill as interrogator, the cop is very close
to the end of his tether and doubly frustrated and paralysed by the
inability to communicate his feelings.
wife, not being
a cop, can't understand. The other cop should be able to, but his own
self-protective emotional armour is too thick. Ironically, it is the
prisoner with whom he feels the most chance of being open, but that
means handing him the power as well, and that's unthinkable.
if I tell you
that everything I've just explained has to be understood intellectually
in this production directed by Anthony Biggs, you'll understand its
honourable failure - far too little of the central emotional experience
is conveyed for us to feel.
role of the cop
is an extraordinarily difficult one, since all we see are his extremes
of emotion, with very little from which the actor can generate a sense
of the man's core. So it is understandable if regrettable that Mark
Rose's performance too often seems external and studied, the actor only
achieving a sense of naturalness and reality in the early part of the
The other three figures - wife, officer and suspect - are written less as fully developed characters than as structural devices, feeds to cue the cop's responses and cardboard figures for him to bounce off, and Sally Grey, Edmund Dehn and Mark Sands serve the play as well as the script allows them, without being able to contribute much more than that.
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This Story Of Yours - Old Red Lion 2010