The Theatreguide.London Review
Dorfman Theatre Summer 2022
David Eldridge’s play Middle takes us to the marital difficulties of a middle-aged couple living with their eight-year-old daughter in a six-bedroomed house in Shenfield, the affluent commuter suburb of Brentwood in Essex.
It is the middle of the night and Maggie, being unable to sleep, is making herself a drink. She hasn't slept properly for weeks. Her partner Gary, wondering what is wrong, also arrives from his bed. 'I don’t love you anymore,' she tells him.
Neither of them is happy. She recalls the loneliness of years looking after their child at home while he worked. Gary (Daniel Ryan), from a working-class background, made it in the money business of the City by the long hours he knows are killing him.
Maggie (Claire Rushbrook) also reveals she has fallen for a policeman named John who she met in Dirty Dicks and who shares with her similar interests such as Classic FM and books.
The play would be as uninteresting and dull as their difficulties but for the superb performances of Claire Rushbrook and Daniel Ryan along with the improbable laddish banter of Gary that gets plenty of laughs.
When Maggie tells him she doesn't love him, he admits that 'in the bedroom department I may not be Uri Geller,' but offers to cheer her up with a couple of vibrators he has purchased, asking if she would prefer the 'midget one or the big donger'.
The humour can feel artificial and unlikely even as you laugh. But so does their list of things that make them unhappy. You can feel the writer trying to give us their history with humour. It is not yet the end of their relationship. It is a midlife middle of a relationship blip, in a slightly sad cosy play away from the horrors of the world.
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