13 February 2013

Quartermaine's Terms at Wyndham's

This is going to be an easy review to write because there is so little so say.

I chose to go to the play because an offer came through work and, obviously, because it stars Rowan Atkinson.

He plays St. John Quartermaine, one of the dysfunctional teachers in a school in Cambridge teaching English to foreign teachers. He is lonely and has signs of dementia. Other teachers are living with her mother, married to a man who has a series of affairs, seriously accident-prone, recently left by his wife and children, and stuck in a drab love-less marriage.

The characters may be rather contrived, and its is annoyingly simplistic that we literally meet them one-by-one, but they do make a rich source of potential comedy and/or tragedy.

So it is a great shame that the play does neither.

We get a series of conversations between the staff through which we learn of romance, murder, failed novels, finding god, a caravan holiday in Norfolk, an incident in a French restaurant, and several other events none of which makes the slightest difference to the mood or the pace of the play.

I kept being reminded of Terry and June, the bland but very success full sitcom that was on TV when this was written in 1982. I suspect that Terry and June was much better.

Quartermaine's Terms was not let down by the actors and I think that they all made the best of the weak material that they had to deal with. Rowan Atkinson did what Rowan Atkinson does without stretching to achieve anything more. His is the thinnest character. My favourite was new-boy Derek, the accident-prone one, played by Will Keen. I also liked Louise Ford as Anita, the wife of the affair loving husband.

There were several moments of humour and the play was quite watchable. It was also lacking in story, lacking in emotion and lacking any variation in pace. At £25 for the ticket I felt a little cheated and I would have felt a lot worse if I had paid the £44 face value. Unless you are a big Rowan Atkinson fan then there is no point going to see this.

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