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A CurtainUp London Review
by Lizzie Loveridge
We meet Eddie and Irene at three stages, 18, 43 and 67. What is unique about Richard Bean's play is the theatrical device of keeping all three couples onstage at the same time. They do not interact with each other, only with their contemporary counterpart. At times the double bed can get rather crowded as the 18 year olds make love while the 67 year old man sits on the edge of the bed. It is an interesting experience as 67 year old Eddie (John Alderton) seems to be thinking back to when he stayed here before, and there behind him onstage is his younger self.
The story of the marriage is one too often repeated as innocence gives way to cynicism and detachment leading to eventual breakdown. Set in Bridlington, then Yorkshire now Humberside, where Richard Bean has written before about the decline of the fishing industry, this play records the employment changes in that area as well as the marital shift of fortunes.
Eddie (Liam Garrigan) and Irene (Sara Beharrell) start married life in love and with no money, in 1954, in the hotel room paid for by Irene's trawlerman father. By 1979, they have a grown up daughter and Eddie now called Tits (Jeremy Swift) is looking to get out of "fish". He doesn't go to sea but is in business. Izzie (1980s version of Irene) (Caroline O'Neill) is having an affair with another man. In midlife Eddie does something which disillusions his wife and from this point on, the marriage is effectively over. In 2004, Irene (Marjorie Yates) has made a successful career as a Labour politician and has been made Baroness Marfleet, while Eddie, now known by his surname as Whitchell, (John Alderton) owns the hotel but lives a tramp like existence. Think a poor version of Howard Hughes. Irene has come in 2004 to ask for a divorce.
All six actors are excellent in their roles, the men showing hope, expediency and a hippie like existence, the women, hope, dissatisfaction and a new career. My only casting criticism is that the actor playing Tits is unlikely physically to be a younger/older version of the other two.
Richard Bean has a good ear for language and his script is full of colourful local expression, "the manic depressive who is more up and down than a wanker's elbow". His serious characters deliver many funny lines but the simultaneous element of the play seems not to come off because the characters never interact. However I admire Richard Bean for experimenting with theatrical structure.
LINK to Curtain Up's reviews of other plays by Richard Bean
The God Botherers
Under The Whaleback
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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