Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Reviews: LUV at the Park Theatre and Sleeping Beauty at the Richmond Theatre

Here’s a little gem. For their second production the Buckland Theatre Company have unearthed a satire on, not politics, religion or sex — but love. When it debuted in New York in 1964 its author, Murray Schisgal, who went on to co-write the film Tootsie, was nominated for a Best Author Tony.

    Park Theatre

    ★★★★✩

     

    Not only that, the play had a dream-team cast of Eli Wallach, his long-time collaborator and wife Anne Jackson (who died, aged 90, earlier this year) and Alan Arkin, while Gene Wilder later appeared in the Broadway run. Other than a flop movie version it has not been seen since, at least in this country, so this revival begs a question: has it been justly or unjustly neglected? The answer, though it may sound like a copout, is both.

    The three-hander is set in that often lawless space that exists under bridges, in this case probably the Brooklyn Bridge. Unshaven, unkempt Harry Berlin (Charles Dorfman) is about to end it all by jumping into the watery abyss. He is stopped by the coincidental arrival of old school friend Milt (Nick Barber) who persuades him that there is plenty in life to love , such as Milt’s wife Ellen (Elsie Bennett) whom Milt can no longer stand. And so begins an absurdist merry-go-round of manners in which Harry takes over as Ellen’s husband while Milt moves on to his (unseen) second spouse whom he later regrets marrying.

    The result is an amusing rather than outright funny meditation on the fickleness of human nature. Everyone here has a self-centred obsession with their own condition that brings to mind Steven Berkoff’s grotesquery. As the shambolic Harry, Dorfman nails the tone, bringing out the tragic and comic, and he’s well supported by Bennett and Barber. It’s difficult though to care about their fate. It quickly becomes clear that everyone here deserves one another in the worst possible sense. And although it must have been tempting to update the play, director Gary Condes sensibly keeps to the original period, recognising that it’s worth travelling back in time to visit, and probably right to leave it there.

     

    Sleeping Beauty

    Richmond Theatre

    ★★★★✩

    In a tight bodice, a swishy gown that, when it moves, reveals a slim and shapely leg or two, and with red flowing hair, this is Maureen Lipman as you — or at least I — have never seen her before. This is her Carabosse — aka the wicked fairy who curses Sleeping Beauty into having way much too beauty sleep.

    Partnered by children’s TV presenter Chris Jarvis as Chester the Jester, Lipman gamely sends up one or two of her own career-defining performances including Joyce Grenfell and yes, Beattie and that “ology” gag.

    All go down well, and when Lipman deploys the demonic laugh she can elicit at will, a chorus of boos ensues. For my money, however, nothing is better than when she lapses into the funniest of all personas at her disposal —herself.

     

     

Blogs

The secret that talmudic scholars have to teach...

Student Views

Yesterday, 15:06

The secret that talmudic scholars have to teach...
News

Danny Caro's Prem Div TOTW: November 21

Danny Caro

Yesterday, 13:09

Danny Caro's Prem Div TOTW: November 21
UK News

Jewish students develop new cancer diagnosis tool

Rosa Doherty

Yesterday, 10:56

Jewish students develop new cancer diagnosis tool
News

Danny Caro's Team of the Week: November 21

Danny Caro

Yesterday, 14:39

Danny Caro's Team of the Week: November 21
News

Danny Caro's Div 2 TOTW: November 21

Danny Caro

Yesterday, 12:52

Danny Caro's Div 2 TOTW: November 21
World

French courts crack down on antisemitism

Ben Weich

Yesterday, 10:34

French courts crack down on antisemitism
The Diary

'Borat' to pay tourists' mankini fines

JC Reporter

Yesterday, 14:26

'Borat' to pay tourists' mankini fines
JC Stays

Dhigali Resort, Maldives

Deborah Cicurel

Yesterday, 11:48

Dhigali Resort, Maldives
Football

'MJSL standard is on the up,' says Bloomberg

Darren Witcoop

Yesterday, 10:29

'MJSL standard is on the up,' says Bloomberg