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HomeTheatreREVIEW: Girl in Thoughts on the Chichester Pageant Theatre

REVIEW: Girl in Thoughts on the Chichester Pageant Theatre



Sir Alan Ayckbourn has written and produced greater than eighty full-length performs since his first within the late fifties and established himself as one in every of Britain’s most prolific and profitable comedy writers. Within the sixties and seventies, he had a string of massively profitable performs based mostly largely round middle-class households in disaster however usually with a superb theatrical trick that made them stand out from the remainder. In 1985 he wrote Girl in Thoughts which has a really completely different darker really feel however remains to be firmly rooted within the eighties tradition. When do you keep in mind your native Physician final visiting you at residence thrice in a 48-hour interval! Or did he?

It’s written fully as if seen by the eyes of Susan, a lady in a loveless marriage with an errant son who avoids contact along with his dad and mom. She has developed another actuality with an imagined household. Following an accident, with a rake in her backyard, we see her more and more complicated merger of those two realities. The characters she imagines as her psychological state declines are like a set of stereotypical inventory characters from a seventies Ray Cooney farce, the bumbling vicar, the cheery outdated Physician, the wayward younger man, the incompetent housekeeper, the upper-class idiot, and the enticing blonde bride. But right here the tone is darker, the comedian moments mildly amusing fairly than laugh-out-loud humorous and the interaction between the 2 various worlds too usually misses the chance for her spoken out loud traces to be misheard by the opposite various world.

It’s superbly set (Designer Lez Brotherton) profiting from the Pageant Theatre’s thrust stage to create a raised backyard space on the sting of rolling countryside and prolonged lawns of Susan’s various world (the place we’re sat). Backed by a powerful sky video projection from Simon Baker hints at which world we’re in and dramatically foretells the approaching storm at sundown when the 2 worlds collide. The plush grass impact that covers the stage doesn’t even trace on the grass being greener within the various world because it may need completed!

On this picturesque setting, Jenna Russell is discovered as Susan and stays all through the entire play, reinforcing the truth that every thing we see is in her eyes and thoughts. In consequence, her supply is slightly one-note, and we by no means actually hear or see how others could be viewing her irrational behaviour and explanations. However, it’s a splendidly sustained efficiency which turns into extra alarming and poignant as she will get drenched in the midst of the night time fantasising about how her two worlds would possibly come collectively. It’s by no means fairly clear whether or not her confusion is the direct results of being hit on the pinnacle by a rake or a whole psychological breakdown.

There may be good assist for her from the solid, particularly Matthew Cottle as Invoice, who first encounters her and begins to disclose that each one is just not nicely in her thoughts. He is superb at pretending to have interaction along with her imagined baby in what is maybe one of the best scene of the play, an act of excellent intentions that maybe suggestions her over the sting. Nigel Lindsay is her parish vicar’s husband Gerald extra obsessive about writing a ebook on the historical past of his parish than seeing or caring about his spouse’s psychological state however offering a robust distinction to her adoring husband within the various world of Andy performed by Marc Elliott. It’s apparent why she could be interested in his consideration and flattery in comparison with Gerald.


In the true world, her son Rick performed by Will Attenborough is distant and indifferent from the household unit (understandably given his dad or mum’s behaviour) and is contrasted along with her enticing imagined daughter Lucy (Flora Higgins) who adores her mom. Orlando James is Susan’s imagined brother Tony, an upper-class toff who performs tennis and goes taking pictures as a counter place to her real-world sister-in-law Muriel (Stephanie Jacob) the “Mrs Total” fashion housekeeper who confuses all of the components in her cooking for some fairly lame laughs. Neither of those members of the family are sympathetic and appears included only for low-cost laughs.

Director Anne Mackmin retains the tempo flowing so we don’t get an opportunity to replicate on the entire implausibility of the scenario however someway the distinction between the comedic moments and the excessive drama will not be sturdy sufficient to shock or shock us and the sequence when the bride turns into a horse in a race is just weird. There is no such thing as a doubt that within the thirty-plus years since this was written psychological well being considerations have turn into way more widespread and extra is mentioned in regards to the sense of lose of identification that girls have felt which make this subject extra related at the moment however someway Girl in thoughts comes throughout as a interval piece from the eighties and lacks the good theatrical construction of Ayckbourn’s most profitable performs or the actually nice moments of comedian farce. It’s a strong and pleasant manufacturing with a very good solid and fantastic set however given the author’s pedigree, I anticipated extra.


Evaluation by Nick Wayne 


Score: ★★★

Seat: Stalls, Row J | Worth of Ticket: £44.50

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