Posts Tagged ‘Colin Tierney’

David Storey’s rarely revived 1989 examination of ageing and family relationships & tensions gets the sort of delicate, sensitive, nuanced production we’re fast getting used to from Alice Hamilton, with as fine an ensemble as you’ll see anywhere. This is a very welcome revival of a work by a playwright we see all too little of.

The Pasmore’s are surprised by their three adult children on their 60th wedding anniversary and taken out to lunch. Tommy Pasmore is a retired miner and his wife a lifelong homemaker. They’ve had to struggle financially and there are current tensions evident. In the (longer) first half it’s mostly pleasantries, welcome reunions, some bickering and more than a touch of nostalgia. When they return from lunch though, there are home truths, skeletons leaving cupboards and the unsaid being said. The parents go to bed upset, so the ‘children’ decide to stay over.

The second half is a lot better than the first, which seemed to me to be overly ponderous, in a Checkovian way, and I struggled to maintain attention. The second half is a gem though, an excellent, very authentic family drama which may well be somewhat autobiographical. James Perkins’ superb period design places the coal fire centre stage and Sophia Simesky’s costumes complete the evocation of the period. Ian Gelder and Sue Wallace give marvellously calibrated performances as the parents, understated until emotions surface. The three siblings are all beautifully judged by Colin Tierney, Sarah Belcher and Connie Walker.

The Orange Tree continues it’s roll, on this occasion with something their traditional audience are welcoming with open arms.

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Simon Armitage has cleverly adapted Homer’s Odyssey with a modern setting. In the original, it’s ten years since the fall of Troy and Odysseus hasn’t returned to Ithaca. His palace where wife Penelope and son Telemachus wait has ben overrun by a rowdy mob. Unbeknown to them, he is having a nightmare journey involving imprisonment, attack by a Cyclops, sirens and storms.

In Armitage’s version, Odysseus is cabinet minister Smith in a government about to fight an election. The PM (Zeus) sends him to Istanbul to watch England play Turkey in a World Cup qualifier, despite his protestations that he’ll miss his son Magnus’ (Telemachus) 18th. He gets caught up in a post-match bar room brawl trying to stop England fans attack a Muslim girl but photographed looking as if he’s the attacker. Running away, his journey home (Ithaca) begins and it of course mirrors the journey of Odysseus. Back in the UK, his political colleagues are preparing to disown him and his wife (Penelope) to sell her story to the highest bidding paparazzi (rowdy mob!) which she has invited into her home. During this, Magnus is reading the book he has been for his birthday by the PM’s aide – The Odyssey.

It’s all very clever and it’s also very funny, but I failed to see the point of the adaptation. It starts well, but as it progresses it does seem ever more contrived, implausible and preposterous. That said, it does entertain and you can’t help but admire it. Colin Tierney is excellent as Smith / Odysseus and Simon Dutton is perfect as the PM. I really liked Polly Frame as the PM’s aide / daughter and there’s good support from the other eight actors. It’s simply staged by Nick Bagnall who uses the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse well, though it doesn’t need this space (and has played other very different ones on tour).

An inventive and entertaining evening, but not an essential one.

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