Thursday, November 26, 2015


National Theatre at the Lyttleton

A new play by Caryl Churchill. Brief, even for a one-act offering. Tripartite. First, the “funeral party for a man with an adventurous past” - drinking champagne in hospital is mentioned.
Mourners stand around awkwardly, wine-glass in hand, making small talk interspersed with intimations of their own mortality – or pithy autopsies – and recollections of the departed. Rarely is a sentence finished, but instead of a naturalistic blending or overlapping, each speaker seems to apply the brakes – a disconcerting effect.
Then a masterly monologue by the dead man – a disembodied torso in the darkness – a confusion of ideas about the [possibly overpopulated] afterlife: Chiron, Valhalla, Purgatory. A powerful performance from Patrick Godfrey. 

Then an extended image – Godfrey again, with a patient Hazel Holder – perhaps of end-of-life futility, or perhaps eternal damnation, echoing Marlowe's Faustus -  “Why this is hellnor am I out of it.”
Too much of an eternity for some, exiting early through the Lyttleton doors before the final fade to black.
Dominic Cooke's uncomplicated direction lets Churchill speak, though I'm not sure what she's getting at in this black triptych.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A superficial and tedious view of the demise of a superficial man. She must have written it one evening when she'd had a row with her mother, had sciatica and the internet was down. Samuel Beckett and Haas at Covent Garden recently (Morgen und Abend) produced worthwhile works of arton a similar theme.

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