A surprise revival of two earlier N F Simpson plays at the Donmar Warehouse three years ago reminded us of what we’d been missing for so long: this blissfully funny, now 91 year-old, playwright is still best known for A Resounding Tinkle and One Way Pendulum, both directed by William Gaskill at the Royal Court over fifty years ago.
If So, Then Yes was commissioned by the NT, and emerges in Simon Usher’s rumpled, bumpy world premiere in Jermyn Street as a likeable meditation on death and the afterlife by an old writer in a nursing home.
The world and his wife pay a call, interrupting his dictation, invading the open day and suggesting that Jean-Paul Sartre won the Nobel Prize because of his perfect teeth. And if it’s the divine presence you’re looking for, you’d have to go a long way to beat Clacton, according to one of the cleaners.
It’s wonderful to see the silvery-voiced Roddy Maude-Roxby again as the inquisitive, autobiographical Geoffrey Wythenshaw, but the performance stutters anxiously along without any sense of continuity, and this affects the various contributions of a good cast including Paul Copley, Di Botcher, Sarah Crowden and Steven Beard, quick-changing like mad as relatives, care workers, tourists, businessmen and fellow geriatrics.