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 The Theatreguide.London Reviews


For the Archive, we have filed our reviews of several Fringe shows from 2003 on this page. Scroll down for the one you want, or just browse.

Camille - Le Costume - The Dwarfs - Fruit Salad - The Laramie Project - The Lisbon Traviata - Madame Bovary - The Mob - No. 2 - Peribanez - Something Cloudy Something Clear


Camille Lyric Hammersmith Spring 2003

Neil Bartlett has attempted something very ambitious with his adaptation of the Dumas chestnut - nothing less than a complete reinterpretation of an overly-familiar work. He doesn't pull it off, but he has to get a lot of credit for the attempt, and even the failure will be of interest to theatre-lovers.

Bypassing the many intervening theatrical, operatic and cinematic interpretations that have sanitised the story into romantic cliche, Bartlett has looked closely at the original novel and the real-life story that inspired it, and found - he feels - a tragedy of a woman outside of her time.

Inside Dumas' romantic melodrama of the Parisian courtesan who succumbs simultaneously to love and tuberculosis and is killed beautifully by the combination, he sees a woman fighting to assert her humanity and being defeated by a social world that sees a prostitute as nothing more than a commodity.

That is a valid interpretation of the social situation, though perhaps not quite so clearly of Dumas' fictionalisation of it, and it is an interesting coincidence that Bartlett's adaptation appears in London at the same time as the musical Ragtime, with a similar theme expressed in terms of an American black man.

But neither Dumas's story nor David McVicker's production nor the key performances of his cast prove able to support this new vision. The play does its best to strip away accumulated layers of sentimentality, with a stark setting by Nicky Gillibrand, a string of cynical narrators written in by Bartlett and the almost perverse decision to play the heroine as completely lacking in the ravishing beauty and irresistible magnetism everyone speaks of.

But the unwelcome discovery is that without its lush romanticism there just isn't much of a play there.

Nothing in either the writing or the performances of Daniela Nardini as Marguerite or Elliot Cowan as Armand convinces us that theirs is a love of heroic proportions, so that society's interference with it is tragic.

He comes across as a rather annoyingly naive young man, far more ignorant of the ways of the social world than he has any right to be, while not until her overlong-but-still-powerful dying scene do we ever really believe he is anything more than a temporary plaything to her. (She is also weak of voice, occasionally to the point of inaudibility, and almost totally lacking in any kind of erotic energy.)

So, if she's not really being deprived of anything when she gives him up, then society hasn't really done much to her, and the occasional cough is not enough to make us feel the tragedy of a life cut short, and so the play Bartlett is trying to write just isn't there.

What keeps his Camille from being just a waste of time is the occasional hint of the play he meant to write, and the awareness that he might have been on the right track. Even the hint of a re-invention of a classic can be exciting, and you might find that enough to carry you through all the play's lapses and the performances' disappointments.

Gerald Berkowitz


Le Costume Young Vic Theatre Autumn 2003

This will, I fear, be something of a minority report, since many in the audience on opening night, including some of the critics, seemed somewhat more impressed than I was by this production by Peter Brook and the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord.

Brook is, of course, the almost legendary British director of the 1960s, who went off to Paris in the 1970s to form a new company to explore new theatrical forms. But, judging from this staging of Can Themba's tragicomic fable, he needn't have bothered.

In theatrical and performance terms, there is little here that wasn't being done by Paul Sills in the 1950s or Trevor Nunn in the 1980s or almost every small-scale touring company in Britain today.

Perhaps it's because I just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe, where I saw at least a dozen companies using these same techniques, that Brook's mixture of realism with mime, choreographed movement, narration and clowning didn't enchant me as much as it did others. It may well be that Brook is an innovator everyone else has caught up with and even surpassed.

Which leaves the play itself, an amiable and sad little fable adapted for the stage by South Africans Mothobi Mutloatse and Barney Simon from Can Themba's story, and then adapted into French for Brook's company by Marie-Helene Estienne and performed in French with English surtitles.

In a black African neighbourhood, Philemon (Isaac Kounde) discovers that Matilda,  the wife he loves to near idolatry (Sara Martins) has been having an affair, and indeed catches them in the act so that the lover runs off without dressing. Philemon's revenge is to take the lover's suit (le costume) and make Matilda treat it as an honoured guest, setting a place for it at meals and the like.

Guilt and a desire to save the marriage lead Matilda to join a women's club, where she learns some of the homemaking skills she lacked and begins to enjoy domesticity, but a final public humiliation by Philemon destroys any hope of reconciliation.

It is a quietly touching tale, punctuated by comic interludes provided by Sotigui Kouyate and  Rachid Djaidani  as various neighbours. But Brook's version of the Story Theatre mode, with actors repeatedly stepping out of character to narrate, does not have the effect it can have in other directors' hands, of enhancing the fable-like quality.

Instead, the bland recitations of narration and description with the syntax and vocabulary of the written rather than spoken word simply distance us and limit the actors' ability to make the characters come alive.

It may be that some in the audience respond to the story's sweet sadness, or that others, having lived in a theatrical vacuum for the past 30 years, find the performance techniques fresh and exciting. But too many of us will have seen it all before.

Gerald Berkowitz

The Dwarfs Tricycle Theatre Spring 2003

Before he began writing plays in the 1950s, Harold Pinter wrote the obligatory first novel about growing up and having to leave his friends behind. He didn't publish it, but did adapt a section into a very obscure radio play in 1960. The novel was eventually published in 1990, and now Kerry Lee Crabbe has adapted it for the stage.

The result is fascinating for any Pinter buffs, though I'm not sure its difficulties will seem worth overcoming for anyone else. You'll see and hear anticipations of plays from The Birthday Party through The Homecoming and also get a sense of the intellectual milieu that shaped Pinter's imagination. What you won't get is a particularly eventful story particularly clearly told.

The play, like the novel and radio play, focuses on three young men, friends since childhood. They speak in the code of old friends, full of in-jokes and references to previous conversations we haven't heard. They philosophise incessantly, and tolerate the girlfriend of one as long as she remains a pretty face and tea-pourer, but shoot her down when she tries to join the discussion.

What plot there is, comes when she finally dumps her boyfriend and makes a play for one of the others, leading the rivals to question whether they've really ever liked each other, while the third guy remains almost unaffected by it all.

(You may already have spotted the hint of The Homecoming, and one of this play's fascinating discoveries is that the character of Ruth in the later play, always assumed to be built on Pinter's first wife Vivian Merchant (who played her), is actually a development from the real-life woman on whom Virginia in this play is based.)

Pinter's radio play left the girl out, which he admits was a big mistake, and focussed on the third guy, who seemed to be going mad, haunted by the imaginary dwarfs of the title, much to the annoyance of his more level-headed but intolerant friends.

In this version, however, Len - played with puppy dog amiability by Mark Rice-Oxley - actually seems the sanest of the three, with the dwarfs reduced to a bit of creative writing he amuses himself with. It is Pete, the original boyfriend, and Mark, who the girl switches to, who prove most mentally and emotionally shaky.

Jamie Lee plays Pete with the intensity and coiled menace of the insecure, threatened every time his girlfriend opens her mouth, for fear she will undermine his superiority. Ben Caplan plays Mark, an actor and presumably the Pinter figure, with a plummy luvieness that is eventually exposed as just as much a mask for insecurity and hidden resentment. And Daisy Haggard makes Virginia a true Pinter woman, hiding a secret knowledge of her power over men beneath an innocent front.

Being a Pinter fan from the very beginning of his career, I find all of this fascinating. But I also recognise that you have to sit through an awful lot of elliptical and opaque dialogue, and an awful lot of scenes in which nothing except the slightest hints of some mysterious power shifts seems to be happening. And I have to warn that that will not be to all tastes. If you're a Pinter fan, you'll definitely want to see this. If you're new to Pinter, you're better off starting with one of the major plays.

Gerald Berkowitz


Fruit Salad Greenwich Theatre Spring 2003

Super successful Audley has spent years putting it all together and now wants to get it together with long-serving, and equally successful, girlfriend Trudie to start a family. The moment is nigh and expectations are high when he invites old mates Derrick and Debbie over to celebrate his loved one's birthday. Things, of course, don't go according to plan.

Writer Llewella Gideon has created a sex comedy that has a more thoughtful side -- exploring as it does the frequently conflictive attitudes today towards our procreative urges -- and there are some neat emotional twists along the way, ending up with an extraordinarily vibrant affirmation of friendship and the values that hold contemporary Black Britons together... or split them asunder.

Previously, Josephine Melville has tended to be under-served by her roles, but in Trudie she at last has the chance to sink her teeth into one that shows us what she can really do. When Trudie's self-composure is slowly chipped away by friends and family alike, not once does she let things slip into mawkish self-pity. As her loving but macho mate, Sylvester Williams gets off to a slow start but finds his stride by Act II when a blast from the past shakes his tidy plans for middle-class heaven into macho self-loathing.

Easily my favourite performer on the British circuit, Yvette Rochester Duncan brings a slice of aching humanity to Debbie, a spurned single parent whose prickly, knee-jerk defences to overtures of any kind provoke as many laughs as grimaces of sympathy. Her perfect foil is Neil Reidman, responding with similar energy as Derrick, a likeable Lothario whose laddish ways disguisethe sensitivity of a connoisseur -- his pals, for example, seem oblivious to the fact that their birthday feast owes all to his haute cuisine skills in the kitchen.

Whenever the foursome are onstage things fall somewhat dead but as they couple off into the various smaller permutations, things start buzzing, and the intensity of the comedy and pathos frequently catches you deliciously off-guard. There's Derrick letting his heart out to Debbie in between spliffs, Debbie gradually going more hot than cold in return, Trudie seeking the support of her old friend Debbie as thinbs degenerate an getting it unconditionally, the boisterous rapport between Derrick and Audley, impervious to whatever problems are erupting around them...

Much praise must also go to Marcia Mantack for her convincing performance as Agnes, Trudie's mother -- wanting the best for her daughter's future while trying to make amends for the past. But, given the realistic setting of the play, from a production point of view it is difficult to justify having an actress play a character some 40 years older, even if she's saving resources by doubling as the far younger Amanda, a visitor with unexpected news from abroad.

A play like this needs a sharp-eyed director with a feel for both drama and true farce. And though Dawn Reid's direction keeps standards high, it lacks sparkle and is over-reliant on the actors' evident experience for the high points. And, a minor quibble, crucial humour and interplay are lost when the actors are permitted to garble the instance they go into Patois -- contemporary productions of plays with snippets, for example, of Yiddish or Pidgin would never permit such a lapse.

Nevertheless, this remains a powerful work that pulls on your heartstrings any which way as the future prospects of this group of friends appear to rise and fall with each new revelation, making you think as much as you laugh.

Nick Awde

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The Laramie Project Cochrane Theatre Spring 2003

In 1998 a homosexual university student in Laramie, Wyoming was severely beaten and left to die by two local toughs. Members of the New York-based Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and interviewed hundreds of people, creating this theatre piece out of their research.

This current version is a school production from the Greenwich Academy in Connecticut and, while bearing all the limitations built into student theatre, still communicates much of the play's power

The young cast of eight play up to ten roles each - townsfolk, doctors, police, students and researchers. The overall picture we get, perhaps surprisingly, is of an open and liberal community with very little evidence of cultural closed-mindedness or homophobia that might have generated the crime, so that the only conclusion that can be reached is that the killers were just bad kids to whom the victim's sexuality was almost incidental.

Among the people portrayed are a strikingly open-minded cabdriver, the policewoman who found the dying victim, a hospital administrator suddenly finding himself spokesman to a media circus, and clergy of various denominations. Only rarely are there hints of blaming the victim, with the general tone being honourable ignorance and innocence - 'I don't know any homosexuals and don't approve of homosexuality, but am horrified and disgusted by the crime'.  Even the most bible-thumping local minister proves able to distinguish between condemning homosexuality and even more assertively condemning the killers.

Meanwhile, quiet moments of strength and honour are documented. The policewoman who handled the victim's bloody body takes the news that he was HIV positive and she may be contaminated with remarkable courage. Residents spontaneously conduct a vigil in the victim's memory, and a closeted gay man describes how deeply their sincerity moved him. A college student, offended by hatemongers who descend on the town, comes up with a way to stifle them, and discovers her calling to social activism.

The young performers, all university students themselves by now, do a sincere and admirable job, handicapped only by the limitations of their age and inexperience. Too many have accepted their director's decision to make too many of their instant characterisations mere caricatures - the effete university administrators, the crusty old bartender, and the like - while the cast's uniform youth flattens out some of the significant age distinctions among the characters. It comes as something of a surprise, for example, to learn late in the play that the particularly hip-seeming cabdriver is a couple of generations older than we thought.

Gerald Berkowitz

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The Lisbon Traviata King's Head Theatre, Autumn 2003

Terrence McNally's 1985 tragicomedy receives its very belated British premiere in this fine production that brings out all the play's strengths and papers over many of its inherent flaws.

McNally's subject is an inherently comic subgroup of American gay society, the opera queens. Act One of his play is near farce as obsessive opera fans Mendy (David Bamber) and Stephen (Marcus D'Amico) one-up each other in knowledge of opera trivia and passionate dedication to the memory of diva Maria Callas - the title refers to a bootleg recording Stephen has and won't fetch for Mendy to hear.

The reason he won't (aside from simple bitchiness) is that Stephen and his partner Mike are experimenting with an open relationship, and Mike may be bringing a trick home tonight. So there are hints even in the almost totally comic first act of something darker, hints that are reinforced when Mendy is driven to confess that his love of opera is a way of escaping from the pain of being an overweight and aging gay man with no social life. 'Opera doesn't reject me,' he says at one point, and later, 'Maria lives through us - or maybe it's vice-versa.'

Act Two moves from Mendy's to Stephen's flat, where Mike (Tristan Gemmill) announces that his new man (Matthew Thrift) is not just a one-night stand. Stephen's opera obsession has been part of a broader avoidance of the responsibilities of reality, and Mike needs a man who will be there for him emotionally, and not always have half his mind on whatever record is playing. This drives Stephen to a reaction that is operatic in its excesses and its tragic effects.

I've given that extensive summary because it points to some of the play's problems. The two acts differ radically in focus and tone -  the first being primarily about Mendy, and comic; the second about Stephen, and serious. The almost Falstaffian Mendy virtually disappears from the play and his energy is missed, while Stephen, whose opera obsession had to look tame compared to his, then has to become both central and extreme.

(In fact, McNally first wrote only the first act as a one-act play, and added the second later, and he worked on these problems through several produced versions, including radically different endings, without ever fully solving them.)

Stephen Henry's production, as I said, does go a long way toward meeting some of these challenges. He has directed David Bamber to rein in his Mendy so that he is fully comic and larger-than-life without so completely dominating the first act that he unbalances the play.

And while Marcus D'Amico is a bit too wooden in the first half and thus has to work very hard to build up the character in the second act, he does succeed., so that everything we didn't sense about Stephen's psychological and emotional crippledness becomes clear and moving.

Tristan Gemmill and Matthew Thrift skilfully establish a sense of more healthy individuals and the potential for a more healthy relationship in their brief appearances.

Terrence McNally was one of the generation of young playwrights who appeared in America in the 1960s, most of whom turned out to be one-play wonders. For a time it seemed that McNally belonged in that category, until a resurgence in the 1980s brought this play, Frankie and Johnny, Love! Valour! Compassion! and others, and made it clear that he is a major writer (He has also written the books for several superior musicals).

And the flawed work of a major writer is always far more worth seeing  than a second-rater at his best, especially in such a sensitive and skilled production as this.

Gerald Berkowitz


Madame Bovary - Breakfast With Emma Lyric Hammersmith Autumn 2003

Emma Bovary is a vital and passionate woman trapped in a loveless marriage and a world too small to meet her legitimate demands for fulfilment. No, Emma is a silly provincial hausfrau who has been reading too many trashy novels and has romanticised a couple of tawdry affairs into giant romances.

And of course the greatness of Gustave Flaubert's novel is that both of those statements are true, and that the two views of his heroine can exist simultaneously, without cancelling each other out.

Fay Weldon's adaptation, while doing some pretty extreme violence to the structure of the novel, does eventually find its way to the same double vision, though it takes it a while and a degree of simplification and coarsening that may offend Flaubert purists.

Rather than the novel's linear structure, Weldon zeroes in on a breakfast scene between Emma and her husband just before the book's end, and turns it into a flashback-filled confrontation in which all the story's truths are told. The device gives the play a focus, though at the expense of a certain amount of clumsiness ('Surely you remember when...', one or the other keeps having to say) and shorthand, with the secondary characters reduced to one-note sketches.

It also keeps threatening to turn the play into the last act of A Doll's House, with the blindly sexist husband resisting the awareness that his wife has more to her than he imagined. (There are also a few too many hints of The Three Sisters in Emma's fascination with Paris, though Chekhov wouldn't have imagined a sex scene accompanied by the orgasmic recitation of Paris street names.)

Director Polly Teale does her best to bring out the adaptation's strengths and fight its weaknesses, bringing Emma's secrets quite literally out of the closet of the breakfast room. Though for a while the play veers back and forth between the novel's two views of Emma, it does finally succeed in blending them, letting us see that even a trivial, self-deluding woman can experience tragedy.

Amanda Drew has the unenviable task of beginning the play at the novel's end, a challenge she faces by playing Emma as near-hysterical from the first moment, but always with total commitment to the character's sincerity, allowing any ironies or double vision to develop outside her.

Adrian Schiller has little to do as the husband other than become increasingly surprised and revolted by Emma's confessions. Simon Thorp plays the two lovers, distinguishing nicely between the sentimental student and the suave seducer, though the need for instant characterisation keeps both perilously close to caricature; and the same is true of Joanna Scanlon and Maxwell Hutcheon in their doubled supporting roles.

The more you love and revere Flaubert's novel, the less you are likely to like this adaptation. The more you are open to the inevitabilities of translation to the stage, the more you are likely to appreciate how much of the novel's vision it captures.

Gerald Berkowitz


The Mob Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond , Autumn 2003

The Orange Tree has somehow rediscovered a little-known ninety-year-old play by an author far better known as a novelist, and it is as timely as this morning's newspaper.

John Galsworthy's drama, written on the eve of the First World War, imagines a slightly different war, one in which Britain, as the world's leading power, attacks a small non-European nation in response to a minor incident and with the open intention of occupying it after what is presumed will be brief hostilities, while the British press and politicians demonize the population that resists this invasion.

Ring any bells? The first half of Galsworthy's play, in which all this is laid out and the political and moral issues debated - and it is notable that he does allow the strongest arguments to be voiced for each position - could have been written by any of today's political playwrights, and is likely to make you squirm uneasily, whatever your opinions of contemporary world affairs.

The play centres on a member of Parliament who opposes the war on the grounds that it violates the highest British values, and who finds himself increasingly cut off from political power, public opinion and even his own family as he persists in voicing his opposition even as the war progresses and a blind flag-waving mob mentality comes to dominate the country.

The dramatic problem with the piece is that very little actually happens. Once the hero has announced his intention to oppose the war, the play becomes a repetitive string of debates in which various colleagues and family members offer the same arguments - he should support his country in war, and is destroying his future - and he gives exactly the same replies - he must follow his own sense of right. About the third or fourth time he and his wife, or he and his politician father-in-law have exactly the same conversation, you may begin to notice.

There is a rather abrupt ending, but either Galsworthy didn't know what to do with his topic once he had presented it, or audiences of ninety years ago were satisfied with a play that spoke about the issue without fully dramatising it. There are echoes of Shaw in that type of structure, of course, and also of Ibsen, in the hero somewhat weakening his right position by becoming a self-destructive zealot. But the play, as a play, ultimately falls down over its inability to move forward.

Sam Walters directs with his usual clarity and fluidity, translating the old-fashioned play to the Orange Tree's in-the-round stage inventively. Kevin Doyle keeps the hero attractive and sympathetic even at his most self-destructive, while Susie Trayling as his wife and Bernard Holley as her father turn what are essentially just mouthpiece roles into rounded and not unsympathetic characters. The rest of a sizeable cast double and redouble roles effectively, filling out Galsworthy's picture of a nation at risk of being torn apart by its own actions.

Gerald Berkowitz

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No. 2 King's Head Theatre Spring 2003

An elderly Fijian matriarch awakens in the small hours in her home in a New Zealand suburb. She feels the spirit of her departed husband is close and that her own time is drawing near, so she rouses the extremely sleepy household of assorted grandchildren to prepare a huge feast to choose an heir. The trick is to stop them squabbling, get them to the shops on time, and to avoid tipping off her own children, their parents - a generation she dismisses as good for nothings.

Courtesy of Plunge Productions, this is a one-woman comedy with a difference, one that uses all the stock-in-trade devices of the genre yet makes it something so much more. Writer Toa Fraser draws on his Fijian roots in the large community that has long been a part of New Zealand society and from the onset it's clear that he didn't have to look far for inspiration -- you couldn't make up characters like these.

Although the content is quite different, No. 2 has all the impact of sprawling Australian family epic Cloudstreet, except that, such is the combined power of Madeleine Sami's performance and Fraser's writing, it's accomplished in 90 minutes instead of five hours and funnels into a single actor a whole soap opera of characters that it would normally take twenty to play.

Fraser has found a perfect muse in Sami, who brings her New Zealander background to enchance a technique that is simply breathtaking. With Catherine Boniface's original direction, Tim Simpson's design, and the sole prop of an easychair, Sami effortlessly alters voice, stance and shape to create the matriarch's family - including a shy but brilliant schoolboy, a gruff rugby player and his affable English girlfriend, and a pair of elder granddaughters bitching because they are consigned to the kitchen - convincing on every level through a superbly paced series of scenes and exchanges.

This production is as fresh and energetic as when it first hit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001 -- and every bit as funny. There were standing ovations every night then and you can fully expect the same for this long-overdue London run. More than highly recommended.

Nick Awde


Peribanez Young VicTheatre Spring 2003

Classical drama done just as well as you can imagine - if it isn't the RSC, then it must be the Young Vic. And with the added attraction of a relatively unknown play by the too-rarely-performed Lope de Vega, this new production should draw theatre-lovers.

A contemporary of Shakespeare, Lope de Vega is said to have churned out as many as 800 plays. Inevitably there was a formula to many of them - an honourable peasant comes in conflict with a dishonourable noble in what seems like an unfair fight until the last-minute intervention of the king rewards the good guy.

In Peribanez, the nobleman comes upon a peasant couple on their wedding day, falls in love with the bride, and attempts ever-more-desperate and dishonourable ways of winning her, until her husband is forced to take action which then puts him in jeopardy.

Obviously, there's lots of opportunity for noble sentiments, villainous moustache-twirling, derring-do, soul-searching and dramatic climaxes, which Tanya Ronder's new adaptation and Rufus Norris's production make the most of. But they also bring out one of Lope's signature qualities, a unique ability to mix high drama and low comedy.

Where Shakespeare frequently alternated the two - think of Falstaff wandering through the otherwise serious Henry IV - Lope combines them. So the villainous nobleman here is simultaneously a black villain, an honourable man wrestling with his passion, and a buffoon as likely to trip over his cape as twirl it menacingly.

You honestly can't tell from minute to minute whether you're going to laugh, weep or hold your breath in suspense, and that's one of the qualities that makes Lope's plays such fun.

Michael Nardone and Jackie Morrison as the married couple make the somewhat romanticised noble peasants come alive by playing their love for each other and their inherent good sense as solidly real. David Harewood admirably manoeuvres his way through the complex acting minefield of the villain who must look menacing, sympathetic and ridiculous, often at the same time. He is supported by spot-on comic turns from Mark Lockyer and Paul Hamilton as his henchmen, the one as prissy and upper-class as the other is earthy.

Gerald Berkowitz

Something Cloudy, Something Clear Finborough Theatre Spring 2003

Tennessee Williams' next-to-last work, given its British premiere in this pub theatre, shows the playwright, who had seemed to have lost his powers in the last 20 years of his life, pulling together enough of them to create a small but sweet and wise observation on life, love and art.

It is very much an autobiographical piece, inspired by the first great love in his life, for a young dancer he met just before he moved from obscure poverty into fame. But, though several characters in the play are given their real-life names, this is no mere reportage, as Williams reshapes events and filters them through an older man's self-awareness.

On a Cape Cod beach in 1940, the young writer meets two other drifters, a girl (totally fictional) and boy both dependent on the kindness of strangers for their living. While the Williams figure is attracted to the boy, Williams the playwright lets us see that a certain degree of exploitation and corruption is involved in the courtship. Ironically, the young playwright is himself being wooed by Broadway producers, but at a cost to his own innocence and artistic purity.

The rueful awareness that both love and art eventually come down to the level of commerce, that an offer made in good faith can also be corrupting for both giver and taker, and that it is the lifelong challenge of the idealist to grasp at the fragments of beauty that survive the process - this is as purely a statement of Tennessee Williams' vision as the very best of his work, and the slightness and fragility of this late play only add to its moving effectiveness.

Sensitively directed by Tamara Harvey, the young cast occasionally struggle with the play's demands but are generally far more successful than not. James Hillier shows us the young writer already beginning to develop a hard shell without quite realising it, though he has a little trouble conveying the older man's rueful self-awareness.

Bruce Godfree makes Kip perhaps a little too blank and unknowable at the start, but eventually lets us see the spiritual cost of dependency. Kate Sissons is strong as the protective Clare; and Matthew Hendrickson, Susan Bovell, Nikki Leigh Scott and Derek Hagen provide solid support.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Camille - Hammersmith 2003
Review - Le Costume - Young Vic 2003
Review - The Dwarfs - Tricycle 2003
Review - Fruit Salad - Greenwich 2003
Review - The Laramie Project - Cochrane 2003

Review - The Lisbon Traviata - King's Head 2003
Review - Madame Bovary - Hammersmith 2003
Review - The Mob - Orange Tree 2003
Review - No. 2 - King's Head 2003

Review - Peribanez - Young Vic 2003
Review - Something Cloudy Something Clear - Finborough 2003