28 January 2012

Grief by Mike Leigh

Dorothy - Lesley Manville
Victoria - Ruby Bentall
Edwin - Sam Kelly
Hugh - David Horovitsch
Gertrude - Marion Bailey
Muriel - Wendy Notthingham
Maureen - Dorothy Duffy

Directed by Mike Leigh and designed by Alison Chitty

Seen, as seems to be my tradition with Mike Leigh's plays, at the very last performance in the Cottesloe in a brilliant, last minute seat.

I sit in such awe of Ms Manville that it seems trite to say that this roll seemed written for her. The organic way in which Mr Leigh work inevitably gives the impression that each actor makes their own role but that would be simplifying the process disrespectfully.

These performances are all perfectly pitched with humour and heartbreak in equal measure. I do hope that young Ms Bentall was able to dip in and out of her dour zone as she left the stage or this would not have been a jolly experience for her.

The set was realistic but gratifyingly simple and yet perfectly functional for the narrative. If felt like a home that should have been comfortable but somehow wasn't.

Unlike most actors who burst into song on stage, the lovely serenades between Dorothy and Edwin were beautifully nostalgic, entirely natural and completely lacking in contrivance.

I had a wonderful evening in their company.