Tuesday, 19 March 2013

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

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