Pros: Maureen Lipman is absolutely fantastic in one of the lead roles. Although she does not make much of an appearance before the interval, she shines throughout the entire second act.
Cons: The scenes where Billy retells the tale of why he has left his holiday in Daytona to return to New York to see his brother seemed to drag on for a long time and I found myself feeling disinterested.
Daytona is the first West End transfer to come out of the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. Having missed it being performed during its run at the Park last year, the play was entirely new to me. Written by and starring Oliver Cotton in one of the lead roles, Daytona is set in Brooklyn in 1986 and tells the story of a triangle between two brothers, Billy and Joe, and Joe’s wife Elli.
Joe and Elli (played by Harry Shearer and Maureen Lipman respectively) are a married couple in their late 60s/early 70s, whose main concern is competing in a senior’s dance competition. That all changes when Joe’s brother Billy (Cotton) turns up at their apartment after fleeing from Daytona, Florida where he has been holidaying with this family. To say that Joe is surprised is an understatement – the brothers have been estranged for 30 years, but when Billy reveals why he has turned up out of the blue, the brothers are forced to recall some very difficult memories and events from their past.
There are two large reveals in the play, which caught me by surprise and I don’t want to give the game away but Cotton and Lipman are fantastic in the second act, each offering emotionally charged performances. The relationship between the two is not what it seems and both feel guilty at the road their lives have taken. One of the final scenes is a poignant moment where Joe and Elli perform a dance number for Billy at his request, before he is forced to leave in order to do the right thing.
Although there is a lot packed into 2 and a half hours, there are some hilarious laugh out loud moments which help to lighten the mood, particularly thanks to Cotton’s Billy.
Written by: Oliver Cotton
Directed by: David Grindley
Box Office: 020 7930 8800
Booking Link: http://www.trh.co.uk/bookinglink/daytona/
Booking Until: 23 August 2014