Written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Date: Friday 29th January 2010
I missed the last half hour of this – making us go an hour and three quarters without an interval was a step too far for me, especially in this cold weather. Still, I got a pretty good idea of the production with what I saw, and while it’s not Ayckbourn’s best, it does have some funny moments and one truly outstanding performance.
The set was basic black, with venetian blinds everywhere instead of walls, and three distinct house areas – lounge in the middle, kitchen to the left and possibly study(?) to the right. The lighting established each one, and a row of diamond lights showed us the corridors. Despite Laverne extolling the loveliness of the house, the cheap plastic coffee table and uncomfortable-looking settee suggested something much more downmarket – I’ve no idea if that was intentional.
The plot is simple, although it took me a while to get the hang of Laverne’s delivery, so I may have missed some salient points. Laverne does for Kevin and Paula, and she’s turned up to do her stint one day with her nine year old daughter Winnie in tow. It just so happens that this is the day when Kevin becomes aware that his marriage has imploded.
Winnie is off school because she’s ill, though many doctors might struggle to diagnose her condition. She tries her best to sit quietly and do her homework – an essay entitled ‘my wonderful day’ – but is constantly being interrupted by various adults. It’s a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays she and her mother speak French, so although her mother has claimed an exemption while she’s working, Winnie’s expected to talk in French, which leads to some predictable fun and games.
Kevin is trying to find out what’s happened to Paula, and in the process utters some language not normally considered suitable for young ears. His secretary/lover Tiffany has turned up, and in an attempt to protect Winnie, takes her off to the study. After some rather tedious revelations about her own loneliness, she decides to show Winnie a short film that Kevin has made, advertising the merits of a retail/business complex. Unfortunately, Paula got there first, and so after a few minutes (mercifully soon), the film changes to an expose by an embittered wife of her husband’s infidelity and shady business practices. At least, I assume the shady business practices would have been exposed – Tiffany stopped the DVD as fast as she could once the revelation about Kevin and her being sexually involved popped out.
The rest of the play concerned Laverne going off to hospital to have her next baby (she was due in ten days, so not that early), and the resulting effect on the remaining adults of having a nine year old kid to look after. From the laughter I could hear, I clearly missed the best bits, so perhaps I can catch this again on its tour.
Steve did tell me the rest of the story when he got out, but I won’t put it here as I’ve not experienced it myself. The performances were all good, of course, but I did think Ayesha Antoine as Winnie simply stole the show. She was totally believable as a nine-year-old kid, and the expressions on her face while Tiffany was absorbed in the DVD were priceless.
© 2010 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me