Review: Kenny Morgan, Arcola Theatre

“Say what you like but there’s been a crime committed. More than one I should say–”

As Helen McCrory scorches the earth beneath her with a transcendental take on Hester Collyer, the lead part in Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, the time felt right to then take in Mike Poulton’s Kenny Morgan. In this play, Poulton draws back the veil that society demanded Rattigan draw over his intended original subject, dramatising the real events that inspired the deep tragedy of his writing.

For Rattigan drew directly from his own life – a ten year relationship with a man named Kenny Morgan ended due to his lover’s depression and as he ricocheted into a destructive new relationship, Rattigan had to look on helplessly as Morgan spiralled ever deeper into tragedy. At a time when both suicide and homosexuality were illegal, it is no wonder the playwright opted to code The Deep Blue Sea.

But though Kenny Morgan is thus academically interesting, it never quite became as dramatically satisfying for me. Paul Keating delivers a sensational performance as the psychologically damaged title character in Lucy Bailey’s production but the depth of the parent play’s tragedy comes from revealing the nuances of the society around him, Neither Hester nor Kenny have the monopoly on grief but Poulton doesn’t quite convince us of this here. 

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 18th June

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