Review: Making Noise Quietly, Donmar Warehouse

“You must risk. Risk being wrong”

The term ‘elliptical triptych’ strikes fear into my heart – memories of Wastwater still make me shudder – but I hadn’t quite made the connection that this was the area where Robert Holman’s Making Noise Quietly lay until the likes of David Eldridge and Simon Stephens recently started proclaiming his major, if unsung, influence on their work. And as the second entry in Josie Rourke’s debut season at the Donmar Warehouse, there’s something of a statement of intent in her programming of this revival this trio of small plays directed by Peter Gill.

Quite what that statement is though, I am unsure. Everything about this production from the three stories presented here and the connection between the three, through Paul Wills’ minimalist green set, to the acting, is understated to the point where barely a ripple of consequence seemed apparent to me. The first tale was my favourite and not just because both guys ended up naked, honest P-O-V…;-) – a 1944 countryside encounter between a fey young writer and a strapping conscientious objector becomes charged with curiosity and sexuality as the former flirts outrageously with the latter and both men lay themselves bare with a moving level of introspection. Both men are perfectly cast here, Matthew Tennyson could have walked out of 1940s central casting and Jordan Dawes’ open handsomeness  fits perfectly as this pair create a wonderful sense of chemistry. Continue reading “Review: Making Noise Quietly, Donmar Warehouse”

Review: Haunted Child, Royal Court

“What does the banana do?”

Joe Penhall’s first work for the stage since 2007, Haunted Child, makes for a much different kind of festive show at the Royal Court than last year’s raucous Get Santa! and given his reputation, for plays like Blue/Orange, I was quite looking forward to this. But when the blurb on the back of the playtext starts quoting the play itself, you know there’s trouble ahead. “After attending an innocuous motivational course involving esoteric philosophy, Douglas mysteriously abandons his wife and son to ‘live in a specific, preordained way according to the tenets of a spiritual leader’.” Big words to cover up what is essentially a rather basic set-up.

Young Thomas is wetting the bed and acting up with his mother Julie as his father Douglas has gone AWOL. When Douglas suddenly resurfaces, the relief felt soon turns to dread as it becomes apparent that he has joined a ‘group’, the nature of which we slowly learn more about as he tries to impose his completely altered mindset onto his wife and child. And that’s about it. There’s a lot of talk about the effect of adults’ behaviour on their children which is nothing new, and not enough exploration into what pushed Douglas into such extreme behaviour and the seductive allure of organised cult-like groupings. Continue reading “Review: Haunted Child, Royal Court”