Tag Archives: Leah Whitaker

For Services Rendered

★★★★★

Jermyn Street Theatre

For Services Rendered

For Services Rendered

Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 6th September 2019

★★★★★

 

“A deliciously haunting production from a plucky and dedicated theatre”

 

It’s late summer, a stifling atmosphere pervades the Kentish home of the Ardsley family, all of whom are in some way affected by the ending of the Great War. Whether by injury, hasty marriage, stagnating economy or the stultifying culture of abandonment dressed up as just getting on with things, each face a future of anxiety and diminishment. Only the youngest, Lois, seems to have escape routes, though none without penalty.

Somerset Maugham’s angry and sullenly anti-war work, premiered in 1932, was not deemed a huge success, despite or because of its scathing lines satirising attitudes to returning combatants. Over time the drama’s unblinking appraisal of human motivations led to more literary critiques and a smattering of recent revivals. Opening the Jermyn Street Theatre’s Memories Season, at a time of when England is again wracked by change and the younger generation must again face shrinking horizons to a chorus of entreaties to be optimistic, it fits like a well-made suit, though modern parallels are thankfully not forced.

The set by Louie Whitemore establishes a world of tennis and tea on the lawn very much as the writer intended and, as the action ensues, Emily Stuart’s beautifully tailored period costumes underline the sense of a moment in time, perfectly preserved. Diane Fletcher as the weary matriarch, Charlotte, portrays with precision the slow acceptance that nothing seems to matter anymore; every glance and micro-expression accumulating dejection.

The four Ardsley children all have different reasons to feel frustrated in their pursuit of a meaningful life and after the interval the masterful writing chillingly depicts how human nature turns venal as a consequence of being starved of options. All performances do their bit for the cause. Richard Keightley is particularly unerring in his performance of the war-blinded, still fragile but chipper Sydney Ardsley, but no character is overplayed, which only makes their suffocating predicament more so. Even the lower class, drunken oaf, Howard played by Burt Caesar restrains his boorishness, slurping beer in noisy measured gulps, advancing on young Lois in the same methodical way, using the sinister wartime logic of enjoying life while you can, alarmingly transposed to peace time. Sally Cheng as Lois, Rachel Pickup as Eva Ardsley and Jotham Annan as Collie Stratton follow suit, politely unravelling their tragic prospects at the same rate with varying degrees of brittle cheerfulness.

Direction by the theatre’s Artistic Director Tom Littler is subtle, possibly unadventurous, but in doing so, he allows the mounting frustration to moulder into angst and finally to a very English version of hysteria, all at an insidiously clockwork pace, marked by distant church clock chimes, refilled whisky and sodas, tea and the dropping apples and rose heads. We feel we are watching England decline before us in real time. A deliciously haunting production from a plucky and dedicated theatre celebrating its 25th anniversary.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Robert Workman

 


For Services Rendered

Jermyn Street Theatre until 5th October

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | November 2018
Original Death Rabbit | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Agnes Colander: An Attempt At Life | ★★★★ | February 2019
Mary’s Babies | ★★★ | March 2019
Creditors | ★★★★ | April 2019
Miss Julie | ★★★ | April 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (A) | ★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (B) | ★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (C) | ★★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (D) | ★★ | June 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

‘Are there things that you’ve done that you’re ashamed of? Things that – if they came out – would break your life in half?’

 

ALLIGATORS

Hampstead Theatre has announced the casting for Andrew Keatley’s Alligators, a Hampstead Downstairs Original. Directed by Simon Evans, this burning new thriller asks how well we actually know those closest to us and explores how shameful secrets, that we thought long buried, can come back to bite us.

Alligators is one of three Hampstead Downstairs Originals which open this spring. Following an initial development run at Hampstead Downstairs, the newly revised Deposit opened at Hampstead Theatre in May and Kiss Me is now playing at Trafalgar Studios.

Daniel Turner has it all: a devoted wife, two beautiful children and a teaching job he loves. But when a series of allegations surface from six years earlier his world begins to crumble around him. Can all the good he’s done be erased by one pointed finger? How can his loved ones doubt his innocence and can life ever be the same again?

Lucia Peragine (Genevieve) and Tilly Murray (Genevieve) in Alligators at Hampstead Theatre

 REHEARSAL IMAGES COURTESY OF HAMPSTEAD THEATRE

Alec Newman plays Daniel. His theatre credits include Bug (Found 111), Hapgood, The Fastest Clock In The Universe (Hampstead Theatre), The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Danton’s Death, (National Theatre), King Lear (Donmar Warehouse), The Soldiers Fortune, Andorra (Young Vic), Desperately Seeking Susan (Novello Theatre), Certain Young Men (Almeida Theatre), Plenty (The Albery Theatre), The Glass Menagerie and Translations (Royal Lyceum). Recent television credits include Fearless, Him, Bastard Executioner, Fox, The Last Kingdom, Lewis, 24-Live Another Day, Rogue, Dracula, and Waterloo Road. Film credits include Where Hands Touch, The Snowman, Greyhawk, Lonely Place To Die, Moonlight Serenade and The Fifth Patient.

Tillie Murray plays Genevieve. Her theatre credits include The Sound of Music (UK Tour) and Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (UK Tour).

Lucia Peragine plays Genevieve. Her theatre credits include The American Wife (Park Theatre), WW1 Memorial Tribute Play (Jacksons Lane Theatre).

Susan Stanley plays Sally. Her recent theatre credits include TOMCAT (Southwark Playhouse), F*ck the Polar Bears (Bush Theatre), Portia Coughlan (Old Red Lion), The Separation (Theatre503), Almost Maine (Park Theatre) and Confessions of a Scallywag (The Mill at Sonning). Her film credits include Hotel Amenities, 4.01, The Chair is Not Me, A Pathless Destiny and Shadows in the Wind.

Ony Uhiara plays Cathy. Her theatre credits include Anna Karenina (Royal Exchange), The Rolling Stone (West Yorkshire Playhouse), God Bless The Child (The Royal Court), Eye of A Needle (Southwark Playhouse), Idomeneus, Bears + Fatal Light, How To Be An Other Woman (Gate Theatre), The El Train (Hoxton Hall), Cannibals (Royal Exchange), Illusions (Actors Touring Company), Sixty Six Books (The Bush Theatre), Hadassa – A Response to Hester, Much Ado About Nothing (The Globe), Charged: Charged Dancing (Soho Theatre), Eurydice (The Young Vic and Tour), In the Red and Brown Water (The Young Vic) and Noughts and Crosses (RSC). Television credits include the lead in The State that’ll be aired this summer, Law & Order, Stolen, White Van Man, Criminal Justice, Barclay, Doctors, Rosemary and Thyme and The Bill. Film credits include Jawbone, Venus and Sixty 6.

Leah Whitaker plays Rachel. Her stage credits include Love’s Labours Lost (RSC/West End), An Audience with Jimmy Savile (Park Theatre), Love’s Labour’s Lost/The Christmas Truce (RSC), Taming Of The Shrew (Globe Theatre / Tour), Forever House (Drum Theatre, Plymouth), Charley’s Aunt (Menier Chocolate Factory), Don Juan Comes Back From The War (National Theatre Studio/Finborough), Earthquakes In London (Headlong / Tour), The Heretic (Royal Court Theatre), Counted (Look Left Look Right), Pride and Prejudice (Theatre Royal Bath/Tour), Found in the Ground (The Wrestling School) and Harvest (Oxford Playhouse/Tour). Television credits include Father Brown, Whitechapel, Eggbox, Holby City, Eastenders and Midsomer Murders.

Andrew Keatley’s writing credits include The Gathered Leaves (Park Theatre), Go To Your God Like A Soldier (Old Vic Tunnels and Underbelly), Care (Bush Theatre), Why Don’t We Multiply, Weapon of Choice (Theatre 503) and Colourings (Old Red Lion). His first feature film, FOR Grace, premiered at Raindance Film Festival in 2016 and has also played Cinequest, Montclair and DeafFest.
Director Simon Evans’ recent credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Silence of the Seas (Donmar Warehouse), The Dazzle, Bug, Fool for Love (Found111), Almost Maine (Park Theatre), Hannah (Unicorn), Speed Twins (Riverside Studio), Laura Marling, Shawshank Redemption and Ghostbusters (Secret Cinema), Rubber Room (The Old Vic) and Madness in Valencia (Trafalgar Studios). Simon was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse, Staff Director at the National and Creative Associate at the Bush.

ALLIGATORS

22 June – 22 July

by Andrew Keatley

Directed by Simon Evans

Click here for tickets and full performance details