Written & Directed by Raymond-Kym Suttle
Pros: A well developed storyline that touches nerves in everyone’s lives – delivered with passion by the whole cast. Very emotionally engaging.
Cons: Some may find the themes cliché and the acting soapy. It could do with a bit more balance in role distribution.
Our Verdict: A tremendous collective effort that succeeds in bringing a strong message of paternal love and homophobic prejudice together. A very enjoyable night out at this Old Brompton Road favourite.
|Courtesy Of Raymond-Kym Suttle|
What happens if you take a couple of dysfunctional families (where drug addiction, alcohol, violence, adultery and failed relationships are daily routine) and force them to face their sons, who have been living a loving, mature and stable same-sex relationship for the last 9 years? Usually, not a problem, everyone just meets for a short hello, pretends all is well and then carries on with their lives as usual. But what if the father is a retired military chaplain, as old-fashioned, narrow-minded, stubborn and homophobic as you can get? And what if he became disabled overnight and suddenly his gay son was the only one left to look after him, day and night?
Raymond-Kym Suttle sets his bar very high here, as the writer, director and lead actor (Ryan) in this ambitious, intelligent and moving storyline. The play juggles many moral dilemmas around gay love, prejudice and adultery as well as life, disability and drug rehab. Doing this without sounding cliché was going to be difficult enough, but keeping the play fast-paced and light-hearted was practically mission impossible (especially when you add deaths, unwanted pregnancies and sudden strokes into the equation). However, the cast pulls out a phenomenal effort and what I saw developing in front of my eyes was a show that became increasingly engaging and well characterized. It was funny at times yet moving to point of near tears at others.
Admittedly, Suttle was a bit overworked and could have relied on his excellent cast a bit more, but his performance as Ryan was nevertheless very strong. However, it was Julian Bird’s performance as Ryan’s father (Colonel Graham) that won my heart – he was nothing short of phenomenal. Starting off as the grumpy and homophobic Army Chaplain he always had been, I saw him developing through the stages of stroke rehabilitation into a redeemed father who became increasingly fond of his loving gay child. His acting was so realistic, I nearly went on stage to try and help him out of bed a few times! In fact, all the supporting roles were very enjoyable to watch. Broadie Bass’ Owen was amusing and airy as the side-kick to Suttle’s slightly overpowering role. Sexy and funny, yet caring and loving, he was the reliable partner who gives you strength and comfort when most needed. Owen’s sister Megan (Lisa Morris) was the epitome of the emotionally unstable woman who goes through life producing children whilst under the effect of drugs or alcohol, or both – and she did come across as careless and selfish as she should have been! On the other hand, Ryan’s sister Hannah (Jenny Lee-Delisle) lived all her live pretending to be the perfect woman whilst masking all the unhappiness of an abusive marriage. Similarly, Michelle Fine’s performance as the Colonel’s mistress Astrid, showed that she was a fragile woman after all, complete with all her human weaknesses beyond her hard shell.
Yes, perhaps the characters were a bit soapy at times and direction slightly off balance, yes, perhaps the props didn’t change much during the play and yes, the show was a whopping 2 hours long. However, I loved it. Each character represented a stereotype with a hidden side to it. The delivery was fresh, the use of stage space was excellent – the scenes turning one into the other with an inventive use of lights and sounds.Well done to Suttle and the whole cast for delivering a provocative and intelligent performance that has potential to develop further with a bit more balance in direction and greater resources.
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Treatment runs at Drayton Arms Theatre until 10th August 2013
Box Office: 020 7835 2301 or book online at http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/search/searchVenueDetails.asp?venue_id=28680