Visiting Mr Green (South Shields)
Visiting Mr. Green is a two handed, tried and tested play by Jeff Baron, set over a period of seven consecutive Thursdays in a two month period, with the climax shifting to Sunday two weeks later.
The story involves Ross Gardiner (Colin Baxter) visiting the Manhattan apartment of eighty six year old Mr. Green (G. Philip Hope) on a weekly basis. The visits have been ordered by a Judge as community service following a charge of dangerous driving on Ross who had driven his car in to Mr. Green.
Unsurprisingly, widower Mr. Green, wants nothing to do with Ross at first, but over the weekly visits an uneasy friendship develops between the characters, until Ross reveals he is gay. Each meeting reveals more about the lives Ross and Green have lived, with the only common bonds being that both men are Jewish and the accident, which brought them together in the first place.
However, it is not until Green refuses to accept Ross as being homosexual, that the actors seem to settle in to their roles. It is during one of these heated exchanges that Green reveals more about his past than he planned to. It is only then that Ross is able to challenge the old man’s long held views and have Green accept his opinions may not be always right.
With the play being spread over many visits, there is the obvious issue with moving from one week to the next and covering any changes in costume deemed necessary. Unfortunately this slows the whole production down and maybe why the actors do not seem to settle in to their roles until the longer scenes in the second half. Time and again we are left listening interminably to music and in the gloom watch a dark figure alter a few props on stage and carry off a white carrier bag. The bag is usually brought back on stage in the next scene when Ross arrives with soup for Mr. Green.
While the play needs to address the passage of time, the continual long breaks stop the flow of the play in its tracks and make the audience restless. Visiting Mr. Green could be a charming, thought provoking play, but through no fault of the actors, on this occasion, there are too many opportunities to let your mind wander elsewhere as you listen to the same piece of music time and again.