Re-review: The Distance, Orange Tree Theatre

“I’ve just had a text from Lewisham council”

I hadn’t intended to revisit Deborah Bruce’s The Distance but a quick re-read of my review from its original production at the Orange Tree last year reminded me how much I enjoyed it (even beyond the thrill of seeing Helen Baxendale on stage for the first time). This new co-production between the Richmond venue and Sheffield Theatres sees director Charlotte Gwinner remount the show with a largely new cast but still a keen sense for the darkly comic edge of the writing.

It remains as freshly sharp in its views on modern parenthood as ever, pointing up the hypocrisy of a society that blithely looks on by if a man leaves his family but is aghast should a mother do the same. And as a shell-shocked Bea returns alone from her adoptive Australia to the bosom of her best friends Kate and Alex , both parents themselves, back in Blighty, everyone’s preconceptions, personalities and peccadilloes are challenged.

Michelle Duncan’s Bea captures the brittle uncertainty of a woman trying not to drown in a sea of such uncertainty from friends and family alike, not to mention herself, but it is Charlottes Emmerson and Lucas who really impress as Alex and Kate, their larger personalities filling the space wonderfully with their utterly believable chemistry and supported in keeping the limelight by a quartet of magnetic but minor male roles. Worth going the distance for. 

Running time: 2 hours (with interval) 
Photo: Johan Persson

Booking until 19th December

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