really powerful good young cast
straightforward direct production - tc
30 Oct 11
I absolutely support Gareth James's review and have to say, in my opinion, Rory missed the point. It IS grotesque but this brilliantly makes you uncomfortable and thoughtful, which Bond is master at. Theatre is not just entertaining but in this instance, should provoke. It is cast superbly - totally believeable performances. Thank you to Lyric Hammersmith for having the guts to put this on. This is not just an important piece of theatre history but so, so relevant to today. - BK
15 Oct 11
It was really dire.
I don't even want to go into that much detail as reliving it would be unfair to myself.
Dragged out to an excrutiating 3 hours, it reminded us that anybody can put a controversial scene in any old play and still have people talking about it 46 years later. - Rory
14 Oct 11
THE REVIEW BELOW THIS IS CLEARLY FOR ANOTHER SHOW
One of the things I learnt when I was introduced to the work of Edward Bond by last year’s Cock Tavern Theatre season was that you don’t need the word ‘enjoy’ to describe his plays. You need ‘uncomfortable’, ‘challenging’, ‘bleak’, ‘intense’……but not ‘enjoy’. I don’t go to the theatre purely for enjoyment, which last night was just as well !
The relationship between Pam and Len, a one night stand who becomes a lodger, is at the heart of this play. He’s kind, tolerant and obsessed with her but she’s not interested. She has a baby by Fred, but he’s not interested in her (or the baby) either. Her parents ignore each other; in fact her father ignores everyone.
At the core of the play is the infamous scene of infanticide; a bunch of lads, including Fred, kill Pam’s neglected baby for no reason. Fred takes the rap and the play continues during and after his incarceration. He continues to treat Pam with disdain and Len continues to be besotted with her. There are other less cruel but equally tense moments in the play – a child allowed to cry and cry and a number of industrial scale arguments. The final scene is virtually wordless, yet it’s the scene which explains most. It was written to show us the post-war ‘broken Britain’ and is now being staged in the post-credit crunch ‘broken Britain’.
Though it’s occasionally funny, it’s mostly an uncomfortable ride, but to my surprise it kept my attention for over three hours; I was rarely distracted and never bored. This is largely because of the brilliant naturalistic dialogue, impeccable staging by Sean Holmes and superb performances. Lia Saville and Morgan Watkins are outstanding as Pam and Len, the crucial relationship at the centre of the play. Susan Brown and Michael Feast are also excellent as Pam’s dysfunctional mother and father. Callum Callaghan pulls off the difficult task of conveying Fred’s complexity.
Bond’s programme / play text essay makes it clear where he’s coming from. A lot of what he says makes sense, though in my view it’s a bit simplistic and one-sided. It’s too easy to blame the morally unacceptable on ‘society’; it’s people who commit such hideous acts and they can’t be let off the hook that easily. However, the play makes its point and hopefully will make people think, discuss and argue and theatre’s there for that as well as enjoyment. It was uncomfortable, challenging and bleak – but I’m glad I went.
A gold star to the Lyric Hammersmith for a timely staging. - Gareth James
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