Search

Theatre review: Women Laughing at the Old Red Lion Theatre

15:43 19 October 2012

Women Laughing at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Women Laughing at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Archant

Tension perfectly measured in play about mental illness that deserves to be seen

Women Laughing, written for radio in 1989 by the late Michael Wall and now running at the Old Red Lion, has a simple premise.

Told in two acts, it features two couples and chronicles the descent into mental illness.

The period is late-1980s Thatcherite Britain – a country in thrall to financial prosperity and betterment, but also in panic over AIDS and the uncertainties of the era.

The two men, unbeknownst to either of them initially, as they sit in the garden over a refreshing beer, share the ignominy of attending psychotherapy.

As this shared background comes to light, an ominous and confrontational air hangs over proceedings. The second act will find them in a very different garden.

The tension is perfectly measured and the play crackles with a nervous, edgy atmosphere. Even with the dated backdrop, the story itself is timeless, displaying both a dark comedic heart and a subtle profundity.

All four members of the cast are fantastic, imbuing their characters with emotional depth and complexity.

Occasionally some of the vocal ticks make for uncomfortable watching, but maybe that’s the point. In any event, such a complaint does not detract from the play’s overall power.

The script is pin sharp and the performances have an offbeat charm that is strikingly effective.

This is for those who like their humour bleak but their stories with a compassionate heart. It is a wonderful production and deserves to be seen.

* Women Laughing is at the Old Red Lion Theatre in St John Street, EC1, until October 27

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 10:38
Paul Foot

Ahead of his Union Chapel show, the surreal comedian tells Alex Bellotti why - to become more famous - he needs more people to hate him.

Wed, 15:35
Milly Finch Jane Byass in Out of The Cage Production Photos. 
Park 90, Park Theatre. Photo Credit : Richard Davenport

This may be a worthy tale of the women of World War I, but it doesn’t sit naturally on the stage, says David Winskill.

Wed, 15:25
l-r: Jenna Augen, Gina Bramhill and Ilan Goodman in Bad Jews at the St. James Theatre. Picture: Robert Workman

Joshua Harmon’s razor-sharp play about Jewish culture could hardly be more timely, says Alex Bellotti.

Friday, January 23, 2015
90 year old artist Joan Dannatt in her Islington studio.

Danniel Wittenberg talks to Highgate artist Joan Dannatt about holding her first ever exhibition to coincide with her 90th birthday.

Most read entertainment

Everyone – from Labour politicians and the French president to Hitler and democracy itself – fell foul of Churchill’s sharp wit.

The robot is an extension of the surgeon’s arms – it’s not doing anything independently.

The rise is levelling off but we can’t be complacent, say researchers.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder