Review: An Eligible Man

By John Nathan, May 8, 2008
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New End Theatre, London NW3

“I’ve become a death bore,” laments widower Judge Christopher Osgood in Rosemary Friedman’s play. Poor Osgood (Graham Seed) is left to grapple with the lonely reality of life without his dear departed wife. Well, not that departed. Her ashes and urn take pride of place on the writing bureau in his living room.

And not that lonely either, for as well as being cheered up by psychiatrist neighbour Marcus (Malcolm James), Osgood is courted by three women. There is his intellectually stimulating tenant, Sally (Gráinne Gillis), Lucille (Maggie Hallinan), who believes the way to man’s heart is through his stomach, and Jo (Sonia Saville), a fellow judge who attempts to seduce him into marriage with invitations to her country estate — and by taking her clothes off.

Friedman writes sensitively about grief, but clumsily when it comes to deriving comedy from darkness. Set pieces rely on that hoary old device — characters walking into Osgood’s living room unannounced. So director Ninon Jerome struggles to impose credibility.

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    Last updated: 12:48pm, May 20 2008