Skip to main content

April in Paris

Perth Theatre
4 stars
The irresistible rise of budget airlines has made international travel 
accessible across the social scale. This wasn't the case when John 
Godber's brittle study of a middle-aged working class couple's 
broadening horizons first appeared in 1992, when the world seemed a lot 
bigger to Bet and Al and the generation they represent.

Their sense of claustrophobia is accentuated even more in Kenny 
Miller's striking new co-production between Perth and the Tron in 
Glasgow by stylising their living room as a white cube which more 
resembles a prison cell or a hospital ward than a home. With the pair 
either perched on chairs or else prowling the room looking for an 
escape route, Bet and Al's mono-syllabic exchanges point up the 
domestic torpor of what their relationship has become.

Emasculated since being made redundant, Al seeks solace by painting 
lifeless pictures in the garden shed, while Bet buries herself in 
magazine competitions, trying to win herself a life, a prize which 
eventually comes through a trip to Paris. As the play follows their 
journey, from cruise ship to Paris itself, Bet and Al's emotional 
impasse cools, and a series of little epiphanies open out their 
world-view to something more panoramic.

Despite Godber's tendency for mawkishness, the clipped mundanity of Bet 
and Al's barbs more resemble 1970s German minimalist writers. Miller's 
production plays with this quality by investing it with an  
impressionistic sense of style that largely avoids sentimentalism. As 
Bet and Al, Emma Gregory and Andrew Westfield capture all the 
fish-out-of-water social awkwardness of a class with low expectations 
and even lower aspirations, but whose lives have just been changed 
forever.

The Herald, March 19th 2013

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…