With the couple playing another fraught relationship, this time between an alcoholic actor and his 'country girl' wife, Martin Shaw opens at the Apollo after appearing in a different role in the same play 27 years ago, with a then fledgling producer Bill Kenwright also at the reigns.
Did Kenwright's revival of the play which kicked off his career still manage to woo the critics?
Michael Coveney on Whatsonstage.com ★★★ - "Thirty years after Martin Shaw played a demanding young theatre director... he returns to the same stage in the same play... as the washed-up, alcoholic old actor Frank Elgin in Clifford Odets’ not too sentimental 1950 backstage drama ... Shaw is... never magnificent or really leonine, not even in flashes, just angry. And Jenny Seagrove... never encompasses that dimension of mystery, and magic, that she spots in a dark theatre ... There's a too-squeaky young actress from Thomasin Rand, a nicely judged pudgy playwright from Luke Shaw, and a slyly wise and brisk old stage manager... from Peter Harding ... Norris seems most at home in arranging some very slick scene changes, with smart and evocative elisions, even though one cupboard dithers a little, and an onstage radio refuses to be turned on and then, more bizarrely, turned off, when it wasn't even on."
Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard ★★ - "Odets sets it up as a finely-calibrated three-way battle of wills between a director, an actor and his wife but Rufus Norris’ lacklustre production is bereft of the necessary emotional pointing ... Bernie Dodd (Mark Letheren) is determined to cast washed-up former star Frank Elgin (Martin Shaw) as the lead in a new, Broadway-bound play. An alcoholic and compulsive liar, Elgin is utterly dependent on his wife, Georgie (Jenny Seagrove). Shaw has a decent stab at drunk and dishevelled, swigging with abandon at the cough mixture with the high alcohol content, but the real problem lies where the play’s beating, bleeding heart should be. Even when expressing any sign of positivity – and there are few enough of these available to Georgie — Seagrove looks pinched and blanched of emotion, which results in a grim one-note performance. It’s increasingly difficult to care whether Georgie stays or goes, Frank learns his lines or sets off on a bender, the play flops or soars."