Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Parlour Song" - May 2009

At View From The Stalls we always choose what shows to see carefully - particularly on our occasional London trips where the ticket prices can be a bit of a shock to our system. We'll check the cast, the writer's track record and even seat recommendations - all to ensure we make an informed choice. We'll even make an effort to balance a weekend with a mix of light and darker themed shows. We'd never book tickets just because we had dinner reservations across the road. No, no, that would never happen. That would be a ridiculous way to make such an important decision. Well, ridiculous or not, our unorthodox decision making process turned out to provide the highlight of our weekend.

Jez Butterworth's "Parlour Song" might not be groundbreaking as a study of domestic disintegration but it is beautifully executed. The dialogue is genuinely funny and the cast succeed in making the characters entirely credible. While Toby Jones and Amanda Drew give strong performances as troubled couple Ned and Joy, it's Andrew Lincoln's next door neighbour Dale who has the greatest opportunity to make an impact. Taking on the role of narrator and retelling events in flashback, he remains thoroughly engaging despite his casual delivery of a startling, if insignificant, revelation as the play nears its conclusion.

Director Ian Ricksen provides the production with the most effective use of both projection and a revolving stage that I think I've ever encountered - and at times the combination of both makes for a deceptively powerful way of setting up a scene. As a whole, the production feels thoroughly polished but more than that, it feels as though all those involved have a genuine affection for the work.

Parlour Song runs at the Almeida Theatre, London until Saturday 9th May
Image by Simon Annand used with permission