21 January 2008

Thrown by Mike Bartlett in the Rough Cuts season at the Royal

Jules/Steph - Sally Hawkins
David - Burn Gorman
TV License Man/Injured Man/Policeman/Philip - Robert Glenister

Directed by Mike Bartlett and I must also list the truly wonderful musicians who were Rhiannon Armstrong, Nick Gill, David O'Brien and Nicole Robson.

Simply staged during the Rough Cuts season at the Royal Court Upstairs
Dominic Cooke and Sacha Wares were in the audience and so they should be!

If this production ever forms itself into a fully formed production my notes here will be massive spoilers. In words worthy of Paul Prior himself, it doesn't become what the audience are led to believe it set out to be. Mike Bartlett has turned the harsh reality of Alzheimer's on it's head and Burn's performance as the sufferer was marvelous. We see him getting ready for a date and being accused of various things he doesn't remember. We see concerned friends and family (who he believes to be complicated internet identity thieves and police etc) at the end of their tether but it's not until the last five minutes of this 30 minute piece that we learn this apparently victimised young man is actually in his seventies. We know that sufferers often view themselves as their younger selves which is why they confuse their children with their siblings etc but this very carefully written play puts that right on a plate and serves up a chilling punch of exactly what that reality might be.

I mentioned Burn's performance because he orchestrates the entire piece. Sally and Robert feed his scenes with whatever he needs but they do a wonderful job. The last time I saw Sally was indeed with Robert in The Winterlling(unless you count her trying to kiss Rupert Penry Jones on telly) and I really wish I could see more of her. She has a way with her that I'll bet Mike Bartlett also sees in Lia Williams. Wonderful tough fragility. How do they do it? Robert took on several different characters effortlessly and convincingly. Is it damning to describe him as a thoroughly reliable actor. He had a grey-to-almost-white bit of a beardy effort which I found rather attractive but brought gravitas and compassion to his roles.