Firstly, the set, designed by Phil Whitcomb extended into the space occupied by the first four rows of the stalls, and in an already very intimate theatre, we were effectively sitting right in Martha and George’s messy living room, which itself was set on a sea of broken glass. Outside, the rain poured, and dripped off the veranda roof at the back of the set. A studio space, if you like, allowing the play to build pressure as Martha and George raged at eachother and bullied their guests.
Irene Macdougall as Martha, daughter of the college principal, and Robert Patterson as weak academic George gave just amazing performances, unravelling their complicated lives and playing ‘get the guests’ as the drink took hold.
Dundee Rep should be congratulated on casting two newcomers as the young couple Honey and Nick. Barely out of college, Alan Burgon and Gemma McElhinney also gave first-rate performances of which to be especially proud.
Director James Brinning kept the action going and wound up the intensity so that the pace never flagged at all during the three hours of play (+intervals). The music by Ivan Stott added atmosphere, and I loved the dance to Thelonious Monk’s Well You Needn’t . By the end, as dawn finally broke, and calm descended, actors and audience alike had been through a wringer of a journey. It is perhaps unfair to single out anyone from such a great ensemble, but Robert Patterson as George was simply outstanding – not in control of his family, burnt out in his career, but finally manipulating the action to his own ends. His rage was genuinely dangerous and alarming.
Catch it if you get the chance – on until 21st March. Scottish theatre at its best.
Oh …….. last time we saw this play at Dundee, a certain young David Tennant was playing Nick.