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REVIEW: IF SO, THEN YES

PUBLISHED: 18:36 22 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 October 2010

IF SO, Then Yes is the first new play from surreal playwright N.F Simpson in more than 30 years. Renowned for influential surreal comedies such as A Resounding Tinkle and One Way Pendulum,

IF SO, THEN YES

Jermyn Street Theatre, Jermyn Street, SW1

IF SO, Then Yes is the first new play from surreal playwright N.F Simpson in more than 30 years.

Renowned for influential surreal comedies such as A Resounding Tinkle and One Way Pendulum, Simpson is recognised as one of the Absurdists of the 1950s and 1960s. Now aged 91, he was long thought to have given up writing.

Directed by Simon Usher at the intimate Jermyn St Theatre, the play charts a day in the life of octogenarian writer Geoffrey Wythenshaw, who sits down to dictate his autobiography from the comfort of a retirement home for the upper crust. But he is constantly interrupted by other residents of the home, members of staff and crazy relatives, seeking his advice on life's questions, or simply wanting to chit chat.

A care assistant wants his advice on an operation that will turn her into a walrus. A young man wants to discuss the role of tallow in the birth of the American Constitution. And perhaps life has a few more surprises to throw Wythenshaw's way yet.

It's a highly original play with fantastical thoughts and premises, as well as serious philosophical questions seeking to be answered - whether by religion or reason. And although the play tends to drag a bit in the lengthy second half, the humour remains quirkily engaging.

Roddy Maude-Roxby does well as the good natured hero of the piece and the seven supporting cast tackle their multiple roles with aplomb. A unique offering.

- EMILY GOVAN


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