Review: Amédée, Birmingham Rep

“Looks like the show is over”

It’s always a bit of risk, booking a show you don’t know to see a particular actor and I have to say I got my fingers burnt here with Amédée. In the glorious Jumpers for Goalposts, Jamie Samuel (along with Philip Duguid-McQuillan) both stole and broke my heart, and he further pummelled it in 2015 in Plastic Figurines, to affirm his status as one of those actors I’d happily travel to see.

So the notion of popping up to Birmingham Rep’s studio theatre was fine, combining it as I did with a trip to Stratford, but I should have paid more attention to what I was actually booking. For Eugène Ionesco’s Amédée falls into that category of ‘rarely performed’ works and the man adapting it here, Sean Foley, is someone with whom I decidedly share no funny bones at all (cf The Painkiller). 

Thus, Samuel barely appearing in what was essentially a two-hander was exacerbated by this really not being my kind of comedy at all. It is undoubtedly well done – Trevor Fox’s struggling writer Amédée and Josie Lawrence (making a first stage appearance for 6 years) the long-suffering Madeleine have a marriage that has gone stale, as dead as the body that is in their bedroom and has been for 15 years.

Their cutting banter and increasing desperation allows for the pair to spark up some real chemistry but there’s no hiding from the paucity of plot. Surrealist or no, there’s precious little to grab onto in these retreads of the marriage-gone-sour and artists-are-intrinsically-selfish tropes and just when I thought that’s enough, they went a brought out a giant puppet, pressing yet another of my hot-button dislikes.

Again I can’t deny the skill from Craig Denston, and must indeed commend Ti Green’s on an impressively-realised set design. But even with all my pet hates aside, Roxana Silbert’s production does little to convince why this play should be rescued from obscurity and really ought to make better use of such talent as Jamie Samuel.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 11th March

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