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A CurtainUp London London Review
Goodbye to All That

If there’s one thing you don’t want to end up. It’s him. — Iris
Goodbye to All That
Alexander Cobb as David and Roger Sloman as Frank (Photo: Tristram Kenton)
Since 1973 the Young Writers Festival at the Royal Court has launched some now celebrated playwrights — Simon Stephens, DC Moore, Christopher Shinn, Leo Butler, Bola Agbaje and Alia Bano. This year Luke Norris and Hayley Squires join them, each with the production of a debut play. Norris’ Goodbye to All That is about the over 70s discovering love and the fallout from a late romance. This is sensitively played in Simon Godwin’s production with a particularly fine performance from Susan Brown as Iris, the plain, about to be discarded wife, who has been with Frank since she was 17.

Goodbye to All That opens with teenager David (Alexander Cobb) confronting his grandfather Frank (Roger Sloman) about his behaviour. In a strange reversal of the usual generation complaint from old to young, David has discovered the affair when he spies on his grandfather after discovering that Frank has lied about his golfing partner. With the non compromising attitude of the young, David caustically orders his grandfather to give up “the other woman” or he will tell his Nan. Frank opens up to Iris and decides to grab his chance of happiness. Iris’ first reaction is a practical one, what will happen about the 70th birthday party she has organised for him? After an evening of dancing with Rita (Linda Marlowe), Frank returns home to Iris in a bad state, losing control of his bodily functions and unable to say anything other than “Yeah” and “I’m . . . .”.

The need to care for Frank bring more conflict for Iris as Rita wants to be involved. Susan Brown’s performance aches with the bitterness and pain she feels at rejection after 45 years of being married to Frank. She recalls a past meeting with Rita and her husband, both from a wealthier stratum of society, with genuine hurt. For all the second half of the play Roger Sloman as Frank sits looking blank, a captive of his medical condition, his eyes showing pain as the three people in his life debate how best to care for him and who will be in control.

I very much liked Alexander Cobb’s intuitive performance as the grandson with the best of intentions and genuine love for his grandparents who have brought him up after his mother left home. Linda Marlowe’s rich widow Rita is always overly made up, hair dyed and coiffed as she waits in the background for Frank. In fact all the actors are always on stage, evocatively sitting silently in the sidelines if the scene does not call for them to take part. Tom Piper’s flexible set allows quick and clear changes of location from the club room bar to Iris’ house, Rita’s home and the hospital ward with minimal disruption.

The play's message o is from Frank to David, telling him not waste his life in doing what he thinks he ought to do, rather than what his heart tells him to do. It is David who makes the journey in Goodbye to All That as he tries to do what is best for his grandparents.

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Goodbye to All That
Written by Luke Norris
Directed by Simon Godwin

Starring: Alexander Cobb, Roger Sloman, Linda Marlowe and Susan Brown
Designed by Tom Piper
Lighting: Matt Drury
Sound: Alexander Caplen
Running time: One hour 10 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking to 24th March 2012
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 27th February 2012 performance at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)

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