Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Southbury Child @ Bridge Theatre...

Last week Stuart and I went to see Stephen Beresford’s new comedy The Southbury Child at the Bridge Theatre in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.
 
Well, I say comedy. We did crack a smile or two at the sub-Alan Bennett plotting and language. And it was very well acted. It's just we didn't really care for the characters. Or the plot.
 
Directed by Nicholas Hytner the play tries to examine how an affable (if flawed) vicar whose principles put him at odds with the world can lead to public outrage and weaponised offence. 
 
Is it a critique of cancel culture? Is it an eye-roll at wokeness?
 
Alex Jennings plays the vicar, David Highland. A funeral for a recently local child is about to be held in his church and David doesn't like the choice of decor by the grieving mother. She wants Disney balloons. David doesn't. And things spiral (excuse the church pun) out of control. The locals support the mother. David stands firm. Then a campaign starts. Then protests. David's family can't see why he is happy to die on this particular hillock. Then bricks are thrown. T-shirts are printed. David digs his heels in even more. Then red paint is spells out UNT on the vicarage windows (the C is slightly hidden).  
 
A cast of aghast lookers all try their best to calm things down - David's adult daughters (Racheal Ofori and Jo Herbert), a gay curate sent to defuse the situation (Jack Greenlees), and the dead girl’s agitated uncle (Josh Finan). 
 
Even David’s level-headed wife Mary (the splendid Phoebe Nicholls), wonders why his conscience is worth starting a war over.
 
We wonder as audience members too.  Which rather comes to undermine the play’s scattershot second act. Jennings is delightfully witty and urbane but that’s part of the problem: the way Beresford has written David, it is impossible to believe that someone so equitable would be intransigent in the face of grief. Not caving in to the mob rings true. Standing firm against a bereft mother (Sarah Twomey) beggars’ belief.
 
Who will win the standoff?  Well, you could sit through the whole thing and find out.
 
Or you could just not bother. 
 
The final kicker? We are denied the visual punchline of any helium-filled Disney princesses rising over the vicarage.




 

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