ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
Gill's prose is poetic as he paints word pictures, rich anecdotal tapestries of a bygone age, the 1950s where women addressed each as Mrs This and Mrs That rather than by their first names. The younger woman, Mrs Driscoll (Lindsey Coulson) confides in the older woman about her drunken husband. She says poignantly, "If only he loved me, I'd be alright." and describes how she followed him into town to the entrance of the Park Hotel but could go no further. Why? Because she isn't wearing stockings and to enter the hotel not wearing stockings is unthinkable. Whereas Vincent's (Luke Evans) mother Mrs Driscoll worries about her unfaithful and violent husband, Mrs Harte (Sue Johnston) is stressed about her son Gerard (Matt Ryan), "this swine of a kid" she expresses her frustration with the perverse boy.
The play is rich on imagery but in places limited in terms of action, depending as it does on the lyricism and verbalisation of emotion. There were times when I thought it might be better suited to the concentration that radio plays can afford the listener. As well as those detailed observations of nature around the tidal estuary, from the train, the red of berries in the September hedgerows, or the "radio with pleated pink silk behind the fretwork" there are those sardonic comments from Mrs Harte— matter of fact and spot on in their accuracy describing working class life, "It's not as if we've got a drop of brandy. It's terrible to be poor." I am very fond of Mrs Harte and some of her spirited and colourful observations after she has been criticised for having her hair cut, "Where in the Bible does it say what length your crowning glory should be?" However neither portrait of the women is particularly sympathetic to these hard working housewives.
One of the women shockingly commits suicide by pouring acid down her throat. The boys grow up and one leaves. Vincent works at the dock and stays, Gerard joins the Air Force and when they meet later they realise they have let their friendship falter and with it their chance of homoerotic passion. One is full of resentment, hurt and upset. Gill's play is full of regret and nostalgia brought to life by some very fine performances.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.