Pros: A perceptive script that injects an edge of realism into an otherwise familiar plot.
Cons: A disappointingly small audience diluted the atmosphere of a play deserving much better.
The daddy of fringe theatre, the King’s Head, presents God’s Waiting Room, a bittersweet story about sisters Stella and Connie, who care for their terminally ill mother. Bowel cancer is about to claim the life of the woman who gave them life; neither one can bear the thought of her passing, but long for the end and realisation that she might finally be at piece. Those final hours are peppered with laughter, tears and bitter recriminations. Stella, a primary school teacher feels she has sacrificed the better part of herself as primary carer. Meanwhile highflying, high-achieving Connie revels in her own self-importance, adamant that she does her bit for their mother. Here we have an unbearably familiar scenario of siblings battling for the moral high ground as their last surviving parent slips away.
Over the course of the hour-long play, the full gamut of emotions are washed and rinsed out in the catharsis that runs parallel with grief. Karren Winchester as Stella and Karen Bartholomew as Connie are excellent as they pull the story in various directions, but always maintain the truth in their characters. Clive Ward lends solid support as Stella’s partner Michael, and provides an endless source of friction between the sisters. I watched with some discomfort, as their exchanges were reminiscent of those between my brothers and I when our parents died. This is precisely why the play powerfully hits the spot time and again: it offers snapshots of real life that are happening as I write and you read this review. There can be no substitute for great storytelling and I couldn’t be more impressed by the insight and maturity of the story. I did wonder whether Michael was really needed in the piece, and feel it may have been more effective as a two hander. I was also disappointed by the relatively thin audience which lessened the dramatic impact. Many theatre lovers have missed this gem of a play that deserves more exposure.
Author: Karen Bartholomew
Director: Tracey Wilkinson
Producer: Motormouse Productions
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.