16 June 2007

The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris

Mr Hadid - Abid Gouhad
Clay - Matthew Macfadyen
Kelly - Sara Stewart
Kayla - Angelica Trew
Cash - Peter Sullivan
Kalina - Andrea Riseborough
Carol - Amanda Boxer

Directed by Dominc Cooke
Designed by Robert Innes Hopkins

Seen in preview during it's UK premiere at the Royal Court. Also notable as Mr Cooke's directorial debut since taking over here.

I am reluctant to make too much unfair comment while this is in preview but here we go.

There is a script device that didn't work well last night and I really hope it's sorted before the run starts properly. If Dominic is curious enough to Google and finds this entry, I am vain enough to suggest perhaps there could be a little audible help and a lighting team with a better sense of timing. At the moment it clunks and at one point was actually confusing (to me) for a moment.

I pray that when I see it further into the run I will be lucky enough to get a different child in the role of Kayla. I loathe children on stage at the best of times. This one stared at her relations all night and was vile but my words are too harsh because it would have been impossible to cast such a young child......especially with a girl. A boy would would have been less annoying to me but any child of that age is not really going to understand what the audience require of them.....even less the director! Thank goodness it didn't have a speaking role.

Very interesting piece. Perhaps Bruce has crammed in a few too many themes and plot tangents but it holds your attention with it's sharp wit and tight performances. Once you get the hang of the style, you can see where it's going and it does all tie up nicely at the end. So long as the usual Royal Court demographic don't mind gaping into a mirror for a couple of hours and finding the humility to laugh at themselves, it should be well received.

Some of the roles have a more interesting arc than others and to that end I felt sorry for Andrea as her role is as unforgiving as Sally Hawkins' was in The Winterling or Kelly Reilly's in PianoForte. Just too big for me to like very much and I really enjoy all three of those actresses and they have all been acclaimed for their work.

Carol is delightful and played with such understated confidence by Amanda Boxer. Kelly and Clay work very well together which can't have been easy because they have to remain utterly detached for the duration. Cash didn't really relate to anyone and in a strange way, that made Peter's relaxed performance stand out. He has curly hair which I often hate (having it myself) and is thinning but I found him rather smouldering in the role. I may be hung for this but Cash was the most likeable character for me. Clay gets the sympathy vote but it's a very fine line, amply handled by Matthew to keep it vital enough to prevent him from being pathetic.

I will say now, if a couple of matters aren't addressed in the next couple of days, I can think of one or two critics who will go for the jugular and you cannot imagine how much I want to see positive reviews. All the right ingredients are there. With a cast and director like this, it should be a hit.

Celeb in the audience: Samantha Bond