After a bit of stalking the Royal Court Theatre box office cancellation line, Gordon and I went to see the new play by Olivier Award winning writer, Mike Bartlett (for you New Yorkers, you can check out his play Cock at the Duke right now.) G had heard good things from his aunt, so we had high expectations. Well, I'll say this: the seats at the Royal Court are amazing. Which came in handy for a two and half hour show with two very long intervals.
I don't want to come off as more harsh than I mean. I enjoyed much of the play-- that follows an extremely self-involved baby-boomer couple as they rationalize their behavior from the 60's to the early 90's to present day. I was truly excited about the cast (costume drama frequent Victoria Hamilton was the lead woman)-- especially the children, played by one of my faves, Claire Foy as well as George Rainsford. There were some really amazing moments and entire swatches of dialogue-- especially in the first two acts. And the show raised some really valid and interesting generational ideas, and what the responsibilities of parenthood are.
But by Act III, the parents were so single-mindedly caught up in their own experience, so double-standard-y, so callous-- and to add insult to injury, self-congratulatory about those traits-- that the farce of their behavior was almost too much for me to take. This may be exactly what Mike Bartlett wanted, but I think he had some lose ends. Neither of the younger actors had more than one note to play after Act II and the brother relationship that dominated Act I is never brought back home in any satisfying way.
A previous production of the show featured another costume drama fave, Daniela Denby-Ashe, and knowing that now, I keep going back and re-envisioning scenes with her in them. I'm guessing she'd be equally formidable, but a bit more sympathetic.
I'm a very big fan of love. But to me, this show was not about love. Let alone love, love, love. Love is not anything like the selfish stuff I saw on stage last night. Or for that matter, what I see mostly walking around calling itself that these days.
In any case, I was thrilled to go & still recommend the play to anyone lucky enough to swing some tickets. All the reviews have been favorable and there is much to appreciate. In fact, I think I enjoy the ruminating and dissecting as much as the watching.