Posts Tagged ‘Esther Coles’

The reviews had lowered my expectations of this collection of Michael Frayn playlets and sketches, which may indeed have increased my enjoyment of them. Though it’s a mixed bag, there’s enough creativity, wit and fine performances to make an enjoyable couple of hours.

Given there are 24 of them and a playing time of 100 minutes, you can see how short they are. Some are more successful than others, but even the less successful ones aren’t long enough to outstay their welcome. I particularly liked Sleepers, the awakening of a couple on a tomb in a church, and Contraphonium, which featured a player of this seemingly fictitious brass instrument in an orchestra pit waiting an age for his few bars. There’s some fun with the form, notably an illustration of in-the-round techniques, a memorial for the interval and a lovely piece featuring stage hands changing scenes. It ends with a brilliant satire on corporate sponsorship, taking sponsor participation to its ultimate conclusion.

The theatre has been successfully re-configured again, this time properly in-the-round with five entrances, one from below, providing speedy transitions between the pieces, and there’s nifty staging by Hamish McColl. Six excellent actors – Esther Coles, Tim Downie, Mark Hadfield, Chris Larner, Felicity Montagu & Nina Wadia – play all of the roles in various combinations.

It’s an unusual form today and in that sense very welcome, and there’s just enough of Frayn’s genius and excellent execution to make it a worthwhile venture.

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