15 March 2011

In a Forest Dark and Deep

The main reason that I was interested in this play was because I could get cheap tickets through work where we regularly take advantage of group bookings. A good enough reason to try something new.

I sort of knew of the lead actor too, at least I knew he was a lead character in Lost. Even if I never really watched the show and could not remember his name his presence added a little cache, as big names always do.

The brief billing promised a dark comedy and that was the clincher. I like dark and I like comedy and I really love dark comedy.

The theatre was new to me too.

The Vaudeville sits quietly on The Strand almost opposite the Savoy where I saw Legally Blonde a few months ago.

More years ago than I care to remember now, i.e. something like twenty five, I stayed for a few months in a small squalid hotel on The Strand (I was paying with my own money) and walked along there most days on the regular trip between Pizza Hut (remember that?) and The Lyceum (that's the Sam Smiths pub, not the theatre). I'm fairly certain that the Vaudeville was not there then, I'd have noticed!

Inside the Vaudeville is much like any other outdated and shabby Victorian theatre. Not much going for it at all.

The play does, however.

For ninety minutes or so two people talk while packing things away ready to move out. Think of Waiting for Godot without an interval.

Through their conversation we learn that they are brother and sister, have never really got on with each other and have led very different lives; he's a carpenter and she's a professor.

And that's it really. As they talk we learn more about their pasts, his two failed marriages and her sexual excesses as a young woman. And as we listen in on their conversation our knowledge and interest grows and we are enmeshed willingly in their lives.

Then the play takes a slow turn. As the conversation turns to the more recent past, including the reason for the move, a shocking mystery slowly appears, which I won't spoil for you, and the story reaches an unexpected end.

It's a simple story which helps to make it the more believable and this is helped by the natural pace with which it develops. The acting is simple too in that there is nothing particularly dramatic happening but it is also completely believable, and that's all it has to be.

This was my first exposure to Neil Labute and would quite like to see some more of his stuff.

Altogether it was simply another good night at the theatre. Recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the play and gave it a four star rating. I also thought the way both characters were portrayed by Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams helped us to sympathise with their characters, despite their shortcomings.

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