Search

Theatre review: Cross Purpose at King’s Head Theatre

12:28 24 October 2012

Jamie Birkett stands out as Martha in Cross Purpose at the King

Jamie Birkett stands out as Martha in Cross Purpose at the King's Head Theatre

Archant

Gripping production of Nobel laureate Albert Camus’ bleakly funny play

Support your community by viewing your local businesses

Please wait

You will be able to read the article in 5 seconds

Thank you for supporting your local community

You may now read the article

Watching this gripping production of Cross Purpose by Albert Camus, I almost sympathised with the murderous mother and daughter at its heart.

They live a hopeless existence running a dreary, mostly deserted guest house at the foot of a bleak valley – and are in the habit of bumping off their wealthier guests for a few extra pennies. Given their lot, I think I’d be driven to extremes.

It’s an entertaining premise, which Camus treats in quite unexpected ways in a darkly comic and thought-provoking play.

Unlike the guests, the production is full of life, remaining engaging and rarely sagging despite the Nobel laureate’s taste for drawn-out exchanges.

Standing out among a consistently good cast, Jamie Birkett is excellent as daughter Martha; played with a kind of menacing charm, she is the cold-hearted driving force behind the crimes.

A fascinating tug-of-war ensues, with the mother (Christina Thornton) getting tired of all the killing – though more from the exertion required than any moral qualms. The standout scenes see her and Martha thoughtfully but very matter-of-factly discussing their crimes.

The staging is simple but effectively eerie: Martha’s ghost-white complexion, the grim manservant silently drifting on and off stage, the dim lighting and dust-covered furniture. Honestly, their victims really should have seen what was coming.

Matters come to a head when their long-lost son and brother returns after 20 years, convincingly played by David Lomax, all wide-eyed innocence. For no clear reason, he decides to keep his identity hidden after checking in unrecognised.

The play marches inexorably to its miserable conclusion, as any glimmers of hope are cruelly snuffed out. A bleak yet funny show that’s well worth a watch.

* Cross Purpose is at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street, N1, until November 11.

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Fri, 11:30
Neil Young - Storytone

Young offers fans intimate solo and lavishly orchestrated versions of the same songs, with typically mixed results.

Thu, 15:18
Paddington

With Christmas comes a host of movies to the big screen, from festive family comedies to action blockbusters. Here is our pick of the best out next month.

Thu, 10:33
The Chooky Dancers. photo by SYC Studios

This year the intimate surroundings of the Southbank’s Spiegeltent are again host to the motley crew of acrobats, divas and contortionists who together make up La Soiree.

Thu, 06:11
English musician Argentina vs Croatia

The iconic rocker is dusting off his debut album, Dirk Wears White Sox, for a series of shows this week at Islington Assembly Hall. Here, he explains the unique ethos behind his music that spurred the 1980s’ famous ‘Antmania’.

Most read entertainment

Protesters have been warned they are banned from setting up camp at the landmark.

John Cantlie features in the new IS video, in which he talks about a recent failed military attack.

From Britain First’s Facebook posts, you would assume they’d won the Rochester by-election. They didn’t, but they’re claiming it anyway.

At 100 years old, this was Ruby Holt’s first visit to the beach – and the first time she saw the ocean.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition