at the Minerva, Chichester
“And there's another country I've heard of long ago ...”
Ever since I saw the original West End production of Julian Mitchell's public school spy piece, the old patriotic hymn has had a potent subtext.
Now Jeremy Herrin [who brought the old school hothouse world here recently with South Downs and The Browning Version] has come up with a very stylish revival in the Minerva, with some outstanding performances.
Chief amongst them, Rob Callender as Guy [Burgess in all but name], “stupidly romantic”, dissolute, dimpled, tarty and impish in his Oxford bags, rumpled hair and wayward collar. An actor who holds the stage seemingly without effort; framed in the golden light of a Gothic window, he is dangerously alluring.
Well matched by Will Attenborough as the Stakhanovite Judd.
On a versatile set – wood panelled, with institutional lights and a cane behind the door – which smoothly morphs into dorm and cricket square, some superb set pieces: the “court martial”, the game of cricket, the Wildean tea party [cucumber sandwiches, muffins] for the visiting speaker [Julian Wadham, a member of the original 1982 cast].