Chichester Festival Theatre, Minerva theatre – until 6 November 2021
Reviewed by Gill Gardiner
David Storey’s 1970’s award winning play opens in the grounds of a neglected garden where two lonely gents exchange a rambling, amusing repartee. Whilst Harry (played by Daniel Cerqueira) seems benign, Jack (John Mackay) is highly opinionated and full of inconsequential anecdotes of his endless range of relatives. Their discussions range from the weather, the war and reminiscences of friends and family. Yet their conversation is fragmented as they barely finish each thought, which leads the audience to wonder if all is not what it appears to be.
The growing suspicion that they are patients in a mental asylum is confirmed by the arrival of two coarse, raucous women, cynical Marjorie (Dona Croll) and flirtatious Kathleen (Hayley Carmichael) who allude to not being allowed shoe laces and padded cells. Finally the group are joined by the slightly menacing, brain damaged Alfred (Leon Annor) who vents his pent up emotion by practicing a strong man act on the lightweight garden furniture. There are plenty of hints as to the hidden history of each of these characters but the play skilfully leaves the audience to fill in the details for yourself.
The play is funny, painful, compassionate and deeply humane and is delivered by a superb cast; ideal for a small theatre production such as the Minerva.