Pros: A strong script with equally striking performances from the cast.
Cons: The over-estimated running time stretches the story too much.
A cosy pub theatre isn’t necessarily the place to be in the hottest summer since 1976. Thankfully, every fan in Islington has been seized to produce some much needed air in the back room for the UK premiere of For Reasons that Remain Unclear, presented by the King’s Head as part of its 2018 Queer Season.
A tightly lit stage shows a hotel room with a balcony radiating light. The temperature adds authenticity to the play’s setting in Rome, some time in the 1990s. The story begins with a chance meeting between young Hollywood screenwriter Patrick (Simon Haynes) and Conrad (Corey Peterson), a middle-aged Roman Catholic priest. They meet over lunch and strike up a rapport; Patrick invites Conrad back to his hotel room for drinks, and two develop a relationship.
As the story unravels, we learn more about these two complex characters. Conrad is obviously attracted to Patrick, who is enjoying the internal conflict caused to this man of the cloth. Conrad gets ready to leave on more than one occasion, but is easily convinced to stay for another drink served by the waiter (Daniele Alan-Carter). The story builds towards a crushing revelation that questions the concept of faith and how power corrupts those who possess it.
Whilst the actors are excellent in their portrayal of the characters, the script repeats an overriding theme even though it was clearly established in the first twenty minutes. This need to relentlessly hammer home the point weakens an otherwise a sound script. But the biggest issue is the play’s running time: at an hour and three quarters, it’s far too long for the story’s structure. It reaches an apex at the hour mark, but continues to justify the characters’ motivation beyond the point where it’s dramatically required. I was expecting another twist – a sting in the tail to fill the last 45 minutes – but it never comes, and the resulting dialogue feels repetitive. But it remains a solidly produced piece in the finest traditions of the King’s Head.
Author: Mart Crowley
Director: Jessica Lazar
Producer: Louisa Davis and Debbie Hicks
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://system.spektrix.com/kingsheadtheatre/website/eventdetail
Booking until: 25 August 2018