Brilliant set - wish the production lived up to it. Rather mediocre, and a slow first half that couldn't decide whether it was panto or just taking the piss out of thee whole thing -it felt like a 'send-up' with the two main characters so OTT with their characterisation (caricatures more like) that you could not take them seriously, more's the pity as the play is superbly written. Sister george is played too butch and too young and her young protege sounds like Marilyn Monroe on helium at times.
However with Belinda lang's arrival the tone changed and we had reak drama, real pathos in what was a remarkable performance that had men spellbound - and as i hadn't read the programme or looked at the cats list did not realise who it was.
The second Act is better paced and the poignancy comes through. Pity abiout the first section!
I was really looking forward to seeing this play but was disappointed by the director's take. - Dave J
20 Oct 11
People keep referring to this as a ‘lesbian play’, but for me it’s about power, domination, love and loneliness and these characters just happen to be lesbians; you could easily change that without taking anything away from the story. The film focused more on the sexuality and going back to the play now, it seems a lot less relevant.
Radio soap actress June ‘shares a flat’ with much younger Alice. It’s a mutually dependent relationship, but power and dominance add to the love to make it mutually destructive too. The balance changes as June’s character is facing the axe and producer Mercy enters their lives, ultimately taking away June’s career and her partner.
It’s a black comedy, but the problem is the overlong and deadly slow first half, which just isn’t fast or funny enough. I don’t know whether this is the play or the production, but whichever it is, it kills the evening. The shorter, punchier and funnier second half is excellent, but you’ve been fidgeting in your seat for 75 minutes (and an interval) before you get to it. Frank Marcus’ somewhat prophetic look at soaps though does prove to be strikingly accurate and the behaviour of the BBC rather timeless and timely.
Meera Syall took a while to settle into the role of June, whereas Elizabeth Cadwallader seemed to inhabit the more difficult role of Alice from the off. Belinda Lang’s Mercy is a fine characterisation and Helen Lederer is on eccentric home turf with her cameo as Madam Xenia. For a short three-week run, they’ve pushed the boat out with an excellent set by Ciaran Bagnall.
It’s a welcome revival; if only they could increase the pace of the first half it would be a lot more compelling. As it is, a bit of a disappointment.
- Gareth James
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