Tag Archives: Jacob Lovick

Butterfly Powder: A Very Modern Play
★★★★★

Rosemary Branch Theatre

Butterfly Powder: A Very Modern Play

Butterfly Powder: A Very Modern Play

Rosemary Branch Theatre

Reviewed – 10th April 2019

★★★★

 

“a triumph of silliness”

 

Subtitled ‘A Very Modern Play’, Jack Robertson’s farcical whodunnit is a drawing room comedy with stock characters and familiar devices. A snobbish married couple, a maid with an accent, a posh neighbour with a multi-barrelled name, a murder, a detective, a plot where dramatic chords and power cuts announce repetitive slayings…in theory this is a tired idea for a sketch turned into two hours of torture. In practice, it is a triumph of silliness, starting with casting of the central characters.

Alice Marshall is magnificent as the maliciously haughty Mrs Fox and Jack J Fairley plays the subservient husband with fawning finesse. Together they bicker unhurriedly through surreal arguments such as whether goldfish have teeth and whether ‘letter box’ is an apt description for a rectangular gap in a door. As Rhoda, Grace Hussey-Burd is bright and bird-like as she wrangles feather duster and endless trays of tea. But just as the cliché of the Foxes is elevated by good jokes and timing, the character of Rhoda is elevated by her parodic version of ‘foreigner’ English, with modified words and chaotic grammar delivered deftly as if from a food-blender, effortless and on the edge of recognisability. Hannah Fretwell has limited possibilities as Mrs Pleasingdale-Boshington-Worrell but brought the best out of a neurotic widow who exists only to suffer Mrs Fox’s put downs and Mr Fox’s proper nouns. Eventually, a semblance of plot arrives with Billy Coward (Ken Thomson), a young man purporting to be a reporter, believing Mr Fox to be his father and falling for the maid. These tender storylines are casually swept aside as a murder is announced. The spotlight shifts to Detective Spectrum, who tries to persuade each character in turn that he or she is the killer, only to be wracked by doubts when they either reply in the negative or are themselves dispatched. Ben Lydon’s confidently comic performance as Spectrum is a microcosm of the show in that it is both delightful and inconsequential.

In the main, Butterfly Powder is an unoriginal idea executed supremely well. Director Jacob Lovick has a well-chosen, talented ensemble working smoothly, supported by stylistically spot-on design and sound from Jason Salsbury and Patrick Neil Doyle. However, one scene suggests greater things to come from Jack Robertson, ‘a writer you’ve never heard of’, according to the blurb. In the scene, Clampton, a morbid cameo brilliantly played by Chazz Redhead, has been summoned to the upcoming murder scene, and unloads his misgivings to a silent, soup-eating soul, who turns out to be played by the author himself. Staged in a darkened, purgatorial ante-room with the sound of a lapping shoreline in background it’s a poignant, funny, Stoppard-like theatrical idea, that would be good to see more of.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

 

Rosemary Branch Theatre

Butterfly Powder: A Very Modern Play

Rosemary Branch Theatre until 13th April

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Graceful | ★★★ | August 2018

 

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