As much as I love the Finborough Theatre, for the second time this year (the first was And I And Silence) I find a play which doesnít really live up to the expectations created by the reviews.
This new play by Dawn King has a rural setting in a world of state intrusion. Farmers Samuel and Judith are visited by foxfinder William who undertakes a forensic examination of the farm and the farmers, seemingly on behalf of the state. Neighbouring farmer Sarah is the only other character. The farm is struggling, Sam & Judith have lost their child and their relationship is seriously affected. Williamís arrival is badly timed and unwelcome, but they have to co-operate.
The problem with the play is that it is preoccupied with creating this mysterious world above all else. There are lots of plays with a similar theme and Iím not sure this adds that much to the cannon. It was a bit Pinteresque, though the opening pause and another close to the end seemed even longer than any Pinter created!
I think that the intimacy of the space (even more intimate than usual thanks to James Perkins spare but clever design), the quality of the Blanche McIntyreís staging and the exceptional performances of Tom Byam Shaw, Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman seduce us into thinking itís a great play when in reality its a great production of an OK play Ė which doesnít sustain its (unbroken) 95 minute length.
Iíve never heard of the Papatango Playwriting Festival, but this play won it this year. For me, its good rather than great new writing and because of the hype, I left the theatre disappointed. - Gareth James
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