This artificiality occurs in the performances. Jackie Rogers brings charm to a comic role as Larkin’s mother. Kathryn Worthington and Rachel Dale fill more stereotypical roles as, respectively, a woman Larkin seduced for the challenge or Monica, the nearest he came to a lasting relationship. As Monica’s physical condition deteriorates Dale’s acting becomes increasingly broad.
Although not yet word perfect, Richard Vergette tackles the role of Larkin with absolute conviction and beautiful vocals – a shame that the poems are not part of the show. Larkin is not portrayed as the Hermit from Hull but someone who allowed himself to be intimate with few people and was capable of causing suffering with intent as well as by accident.
Director Andrew Pearson offers a comedy of manners. This naturalistic approach is valid but clashes with the classic elements of farce in the play such as the strained conversations between Larkin’s lovers.
- Dave Cunningham