WhatsOnStage Logo

Bright Is the Ring of Words

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo
This play takes its name from one of Robert Louis Stevenson's Songs of Travel, famously set to music for baritone voice by Ralph Vaughan Williams. But it’s a deceptive title. This is not a pretty show, nor is it meant to be.

Erstwhile opera singer John is a withering alcoholic, rotting away in a damp-ridden flat with only long suffering help, Stanley, to keep him clean and dry. With John’s estranged daughter Melanie due to visit, Stanley attempts to tidy up - but no amount of dusting can do the job on John: dirty sheets, dirty pants, dirty old man.

As odd couplings go, it’s ripe for exploration and gentle giant John Garfield-Roberts is moving in the carer role. But it’s hard to see why Stan does care when John is so utterly dislikable. Whether this fault lies with actor or writer - Jeffrey Mayhew is both - is uncertain. But in giving John zero redeeming qualities, Mayhew’s play leaves little room for sympathy, just a bad smell that neither air freshener nor opera arias can shift.

Tagged in this Story