Pros: The reassuringly uncomfortable sex scenes.
Cons: The last half hour dragged a bit.
Above the Bread and Roses pub just off Clapham High Street, Window, the second collaboration between director Dave Spencer and playwright Ron Elisha is running until 16 September. The fictional couple onstage, Grace and Jimmy, are played by Idgie Beau and Charles Warner. Together, the collective go under the name Another Soup.
We sit back and watch our protagonists squint through their window to watch another couple across the street– a bit like Gogglebox. Later on, Grace gives her own names to the couple that she has never met in person. They’re captivated by their neighbours’ late night antics, first observing them with a sense of horror, and then awe. Their newly found voyeurism inspires the pair to recreate the action in their own bedroom, and Grace ends up getting pregnant with their second child. The story quickly turns from bawdy and sexual to desperate and distressing, as the couple and the audience watch their neighbours’ lives play out.
The action is slow to start but improves as the actors settle into their groove. The middle section is extremely promising – Warner’s character arc is believable and his performance natural. At this point his efforts hold the show together, and drive the narrative. Comedy, misery and horror are delivered in equal measure.
Towards the end, it becomes apparent what the team are aiming for: spiralling post-natal depression, verging on psychosis (as confirmed by a quick glance at the director’s notes). However, Beau’s performance and incessant tears become somewhat monotonous, losing its desired effect. Warner’s Jimmy complains that her behaviour is driving the two of them mad and, at points, it feels like he is speaking for the rest of the house as well. This made all the more grating by the claustrophobic surroundings of the couple’s bedroom, though that could have been intentional.
The set itself is sparse and tasteful, and doesn’t detract from the action. The writing presents a powerful mix of narcissism and voyeurism, with some thoughtful musings on our social media addicted age. In places, it pushes all the right buttons. There are some genuinely funny moments as well, mostly courtesy of Warner, which had the small audience bursting out with laughter. The play could have been condensed somewhat, which would improve the pacing in the last half hour plod to the finish line.
Author: Ron Elisha
Director and Producer: Dave Spencer
Box Office: 020 8050 3025
Booking Link: https://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/window.html
Booking Until: 16 September 2017