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Posts Tagged ‘Clare Rushbrook’

I’ve rarely left the theatre of late feeling totally satisfied by a new play. Until this. The pandemic has made the wait five rather than three years for the second in David Eldridge’s relationships trilogy, but it was well worth the wait. Hopefully, it won’t take as long for the third – End? – as I for one am already full of anticipation.

Like Beginning before it, it’s a two-hander, played in real time over 100 minutes during a sleepless night in Maggie & Gary’s Essex home. Gary’s trajectory from market boy to City slicker is like many of his generation from Essex. It’s enabled him to afford the six-bedroom home, private prep school for daughter Annabel and holidays abroad, at a price. Maggie was late to motherhood, after problems conceiving, and has only recently returned to her career. This should be a success story in so many ways.

It’s a lot more than this personal story, though. It covers universal themes, things so many experience in midlife, many important and prescient issues, as Maggie & Gary’s marriage unravels before your eyes. They include the cost of success and the price (in fulfilment) of motherhood. I found myself connected and emotionally engaged with these, which seem to have become even more urgent during the pandemic, with many people focusing so much more on the work-life balance. If only Maggie and Gary had.

Though they are both regulars on our TV screens, we don’t see enough of Clare Rushbrook and Daniel Ryan on stage. Clare has already provided a cinematic highlight this year with Ali & Ava, now she provides a stage highlight to match it, a woman late to motherhood struggling to bond with her child and achieve the fulfilment her career once provided. Daniel is on an equally captivating roller coaster ride from frustration and despair to helplessness and rage with a character that’s high on ambition, but low on emotional intelligence. These are such visceral, committed performances you can’t help but empathise with their characters. The same creative team – director Polly Findlay and designer Fly Davis – handle the material with the same sensitivity.

You could never have the same intense, deeply rewarding experience as this in any other art form. It’s why I go to the theatre. You’d be completely bonkers to miss it.

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