Thursday 08th December

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Tonight at 8.30 @ Richmond Theatre

| Comedy, Culture, Theatre | 16/06/2014

Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman
Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman

Ways and Means

Initially warring factions in a not-so-typical marriage make for some scintillating scenes. Hilarious for its own sake, you laugh along and forget why you’re laughing. The stridency of the entire cast is undoubtedly indebted to the genius of Noël Coward – easily on par with Wilde – like watching a Victoria Wood sketch cranked-up to the nth degree. Thank you English Touring Theatre for the rediscovery. Gyuri Sarossy as the husband is fierce and manic; Kirsty Besterman as the wife, sharp and sassy. Shereen Martin as Elena is just great. Coward’s catty and sometimes nasty dialogue is ever ripe for the picking. Or the pickling – juicy and sour as a cocktail cucumber. Brilliantly modern, an effective commentary on capitalism, then as now. For money drives quite literally.

Peter Singh takes centre stage

Fumed Oak

And now for something completely different. Change of scene. Change of class. But equally caustic and we can’t get enough of it. Peter Singh’s hen-pecked husband is superb, on a slow boil till the pot blows, exploding each horror of suburban aspiration. Bushwhacking, flash-backing, back-tracking. Lovely, lovely, lovely, the repressed breaking free. A lesson for all. Coward’s language is magnificent, citing other great writers who “knew what life was like if you give it a chance…” Excruciatingly good.

Gyuri Sarossy and Shereen Martin

Still Life

Coward displays a natural – and naturalistic – human empathy transcending all facets of life. This drama formed the basis of his own screenplay ‘Brief Encounter’. For any fan of Lean’s masterpiece it’s intriguing, like watching the motion through a cracked lens. Unlike the film, humour is stacked against pathos, fast-paced. Further dichotomy in love’s young dream, hesitant to the moment, paralleling perfect others who’ve missed the train. What sets Coward apart is that as well as the grit in the eye he has the grit in his teeth – he knows how it feels. Achingly profound, in the way that he considered cheap music to be. Sarossy’s repetitious variations of respiratory disease renders the most sensual serenade in the world. Shereen Martin is sublime, a truly heart-rending performance.

Coward writes an entire lifetime across three one-act plays, and the effect is astonishing. Treble triple-bills, under Blanche McIntyre’s effective direction, are selected from the ten original works, shown over consecutive nights. Thrice pity I can’t see them all. On the strength of these three, I most definitely would.

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