The Theatreguide.London Review
am assured by others that Philip Ridley's 10-year-old play can be an
engrossing and powerful experience, so the fact that this production is
only partly successful must be laid at the feet of director Robert
McWhir, who has been unable to create and sustain a reality to support
the characters and plot.
mother of a man
murdered in a particularly horrible gay-bashing incident meets the
teenager who discovered the body. The boy actually seems more
traumatised than the woman, which at first seems odd until their wary
bonding and telling of their stories leads to significant revelations.
course the boy
has a secret, and while it is not the obvious first thing you thought
of, it is probably the second or third, which means that the play's big
discoveries are something of a letdown.
real interest of the play lies less in the goal than in the journey,
the process of the two characters opening up to each other and opening
themselves up to their pain. And some of the most touching and
evocative moments come as we realise that they are each using the other
as a surrogate, the boy saying things he was unable to say to his own
recently dead mother, the woman hearing things her son was unable to
those are just
isolated moments. For too much of the play's ninety minutes director
McWhir can find no answers to the basic questions facing any play: why
are these two people in the same room, why are they saying what they
say, and why are they sitting there listening to what is being
several extended speeches of description and narration and, while they
sometimes play like audition pieces, both Nicola Duffett and Elliott
Jordan deliver them well, conjuring up both the thing being spoken of
and the emotions of the speaker.
But they are both much less successful as listeners, giving little sense of what hearing what is being said does to them or, indeed, of whether they are hearing it at all.
Both actors have
extensive experience on TV soaps, and it's almost as if they consider
themselves off-camera, with no need to sustain a reality while the
other one is speaking. But even if one can blame them for that
tendency, it was the job of the director to correct it and to guide
them toward understanding and conveying what was going on within their
characters when they weren't speaking, and he hasn't.
For this production of Vincent River to work for you, you'll have to cherry-pick the strong bits, and fill in for yourself what the other parts should have been like.
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Vincent River - Landor 2010