Benchtours Theatre Company have had their funding taken away from them, so this might be their final show, which is a pity. The company has produced challenging and engaging work for the past 15 years, so I hope that something happens to allow them to continue.
The Lesson is a typically quirky short play from Eugene Ionesco, the master of the Theatre of the Absurd. A pupil arrives for a private lesson from a professor. The initially assured 18 year old pupil is challenged to name of all the seasons, and to do some some very simple maths. And in the ensuing hour, relationships enter a strange and dangerous terratory. Good performances by benchtours founders Peter Clerke and Catherine Gillard as the Professor and his maid accomplice, but a star turn from Kirstin McLean as the pupil, trying to make best sense of the absurd logic she is presented with.
I enjoyed the pink set by Jason Southgate, and Tim Brinkhurst’s sound palette was almost an extra character. Gerry Mulgrew’s direction nicely overcame the challenge of bringing this piece up to date from its 1950s origin.
A double bill with Ionesco’s The Bald Prima Donna would have made more of an evening of it.