18 March 2009

the pigeons by David Gieselmann
translated by Maja Zade

Robert/Francois Bertrand - Art Malik
Helmar Bertrand - George Rainsford
Gerlinde Betrand - Lesley Sharp
Silja can de Vries - Megan Dodds
Holger Voss - Con O'Neill
Natalie Voss - Lesley Manville
Dr Erich Asendorf - Tom Goodman-Hill
Heidrun/Libgart Reichert

Directed by Mark Ravenhill, this was the final rehearsed reading during the Off The Wall Season
There was frisson to the packed audience this afternoon and too many familiar faces to mention.

Helmar's father has disappeared. Now he is left alone to face Francois, his pigeon-breeding uncle, who has arrived to stake a claim in the family business.

When you are faced with such a accomplished cast it seems wrong to praise one more than the other but Tom Goodman-Hill's performance was priceless and would have been so embarrassing and dead in the wrong hands. Mr Ravenhill's dexterous command was everywhere but he had such amazing tools to work with and I couldn't help wondering if he'd wished his twins were as polished and experienced as this crowd.

The cast list was announced much sooner than any of the other readings so I did wonder if they had longer to rehearse and if they did, it certainly paid off as this piece relied on precision ping-pong playing. Everyone put so much energy into their part whether that be spent on restraint or excess.

I didn't find the website description very helpful....... Robert Bertrand runs a business and his close assosiate is Holger Voss. Holger is a mess and is being bullied by a subordinate, Heidrun.
Robert wants to escape the rat race and traumas of family life so he plans to disappear, effecting a pretense of leaving the business in the hands of a frightened and very unwilling Holger. It transpires that Heidrun is being paid to undermine Holger by Robert's son so that he can grasp control. She claims that bullying is only really a hobby for her - nothing to worry about!

Both Holger and Robert have feisty wives. Holger's is ambitious for him. Robert's is tired of him & dreams of Italy. They are both having a relationship with the company psychiatrist, Dr Erich Asendorf. He is the jewel in the crown and Tom gave an hilariously pitch perfect portrayal of this detached bafoon.

The seemingly spare part is the Dutch Silja who serves as a conduit to the final twist. Having first arrived at the house to 'upgrade' some software on the safe, Robert uses her to aid his new life (and name) with.............the pigeons and some cash stolen from the firm. Half the cast believe Robert & Francois to be one and the same person but a couple are convinced he is not(Francois never pronounces her name correctly) and that adds to the glorious confusion.

Con was spitting, Sally was twitching, Lesley S was staring, Lesley M was cutting. Megan was beautiful, George was relaxed and Art glided from Robert to Francois with a subtle precision that gave me palpation's. I am not going to mention Tom again because in the unlikely event that this blog is ever read by someone outside my family, it might go to his head. Who needs a set and props?

I would love to see this as a fully formed production but I hope I'll never forget this amazing reading.