Mouth to Mouth is the latest casualty in a West End where many straight plays seem unable to survive in the face of both the domestic summer slump as well as the dramatic fall in seasonal foreign visitors following the foot-and-mouth outbreak. In addition to Mouth to Mouth, The Beau, The Female Odd Couple and Ghosts will all be closing shortly while other recently arrived and critically successful plays, such as the comedies Noises Off and Feelgood, are routinely resorting to the Leicester Square half-price ticket booth to fill evening performances.
Mouth to Mouth, directed by Court artistic director Ian Rickson and starring Lindsay Duncan, is set in a garden in Balham, south London. Against a summertime backdrop of birds, lawnmowers and children at play, old friends Frank and Laura make bitter small talk, never daring to bring out in the open the tragedy that occurred the previous summer.
Duncan's recent stage appearances include Harold Pinter's The Homecoming (National) and Celebration (Almeida). She's joined in the cast by Barnaby Kay, Michael Maloney, Andrew McKay, Lucy Whybrow and Peter Wright.
Mouth to Mouth is Elyot's second play for the Royal Court. His first and most famous, My Night with Reg, premiered at the Theatre Upstairs in 1994 before transferring to the Criterion and Playhouse Theatres in the West End. In 1994/95, it won Best Comedy honours at both the Laurence Olivier Awards and the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and led Elyot to also win the Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. Elyot's other plays include Coming Clean (Bush Theatre) and The Day I Stood Still (National).
- by Terri Paddock