Arthur Dudley sits in his armchair flanked by Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner, his two oxygen tanks. Reveling in his position as patriarch in the world he has created, and with the goal of reaching 100 firmly in his mind, it is clear that nothing and no one will stand in Arthur’s way.
Arthur’s grandson Danny Boy returns from Spain to visit him and a web of dark family secrets become increasingly entangled. Arthur is the only God on the estate and he has no time for any other, his vengeance is swiftly dealt.
The narrative twists and turns as the characters try to avoid the blows dealt out to them. Moments of dark humour add further complexity and realism to the play.
Dean Stalham’s script is fast-paced and captivating, and Pam Brighton directs a cast who make this an emotionally gripping and riveting production.
Dudley Sutton’s Arthur is skillfully portrayed. Sutton shows Arthur as pitiable and then abhorrent, gradually revealing an increasingly corrupt and manipulative figure whose ruthlessness has poisoned the estate and his family. Jud Charlton expertly plays the unfortunate grandson Danny Boy. His presence arouses both sympathy and frustration as he struggles to face the truths he has left behind. Heather Wild’s Caroline is frail and ghost-like and her presence haunts both the characters and audience. Derek Horsham as Daisy Boy superbly captures the essence of a man on the edge, fiercely loyal and a victim of circumstance.
The play is a rare offering; Stalham gives audiences an expertly crafted script and characters. Pam Brighton’s direction cements a production which is definitely worth taking the trip to New Cross for. It is a modern Shakespearean tragedy, although Providence is never to blame.