Tuesday, March 01, 2011

"Staircase" - February 2011

Charles Dyer's play sees Charles and Harry reach a crisis point in their relationship when Charles finds himself facing prosecution for a drunken incident - just as he is about to be reunited with his long lost daughter. And tensions rise further as Harry accuses Charles of trying to sweep their relationship under the carpet. As a comedy, black or otherwise, "Staircase" misses the mark - while a play set in the sixties is clearly going to have a period feel, here the comic lines seemed dreadfully dated. Or maybe you just have to have lived through the sixties to appreciate it (the older couple sitting next to us certainly found parts of it hilarious). But then, for me, the play's strength lay elsewhere - as a consideration of an abusive domestic situation. And on that level it worked rather well.

Andy Arnold gives Charles the sense of unpredictability and lightning quick mood shifts so often at the heart of domestic abuse, with Benny Young making Harry a textbook battered wife. They certainly managed to transfer that element of being 'on edge' to me in the third row. And in fairness the anticipation of where things were heading may have been in part to blame for my inability to appreciate the attempts at humour. Part of me is left disappointed that this aspect of the play is overshadowed by both the comedy billing and a final plot twist, when the abusive relationship seems both more interesting and contemporary.

Arnold and Young both give strong emotional performances, but due to the accent and fast paced delivery we did struggle to catch some of Charles' dialogue. Arnold also directs effectively and what could be a very static two hander maintains a considerable level of energy throughout. Special mentions also for Kenny Miller's clean design and Karen Bryce's atmospheric lighting.

"Staircase" serves as an interesting reminder of just how recently lives were destroyed by society's attitudes to homosexuality, but it's difficult not to feel that a more contemporary consideration of the issues might have been more worthwhile.

We received our tickets for the show through our membership of the Tron's Patrons scheme which we thoroughly recommend for anyone who is a regular attendee at the Tron.

Staircase is a 'Tron Stripped' production and runs at the Tron until Saturday 5th March.
Image by John Johnston used with permission