17 September 2016

Good Canary at the Rose Theatre


The biggest impediment to me seeing things at the Rose Theatre is their woeful publicity so it is lucky that Good Canary was one of their own productions and so did get some publicity. Visiting shows are less fortunate.

I suspect that many people will go to see this because of the John Malkovich name, even though he is "only" directing and does not appear on stage, I went because it sounded interesting, the sort of play that I am used to seeing at places like Theatre503 and if I'd go to Clapham to see a play like that then clearly I would go closer to home.

The Rose is a nice walk from home which takes slightly under an hour at a leisurely pace along the river. I left home soon after 5pm intending to eat something at Wagamama but got tempted in to The Gazebo by the vegetarian Korean Curry on the menu. It was also good to have a pint of Old Brewery Bitter again. It was my staple diet when I first started working in London but Sam Smiths pubs are few and far between and so I have few opportunities to get to one.

I got to the Rose in good time for a glass of Prosecco despite the traditional long queue for the bar. Looking around I was pleased to see that so many people had dressed up for the evening, though none had a shirt to match mine. Especially not John Malkovich who walked past me a couple of times dressed like a presenter on Scrapheap Challenge.

The first impact that Good Canary made was with its staging. Extensive use was made of back projection to change the set from scene to scene as the few props came on and off the stage as if by magic, but which was probably wires. Both techniques allowed the scenes to change quickly and that maintained the pace of the story.

That story concerned a young married couple. He was on the verge of a promising career as a written while she took industrial levels of drugs, mostly speed, in an effort to cope with her depression. That tension between hope and despair drove the drama and I was entangled in their emotions as I watched the couple swing between ups and downs.

Annie, as the person with the mental issues and the strong drug habit, was at the heart of everything that happened and ridiculously young Freya  Mavor was sensational. Not just good, sensational. She went from playful, to loving, to desperate, to angry and took us with her every step of the way.

With a decent story, great staging and a sensational actress Good Canary was an excellent production. I hope that the Rose will have the courage to put on more plays like this and leaves the quaint period dramas to Richmond Theatre to do.

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