Tag Archives: Philip Wilson

A Single Man

A Single Man


Park Theatre

A SINGLE MAN at the Park Theatre


A Single Man

this beautifully presented play exposes pertinent questions about societal responsibility, and prejudice


Troupe presents a new adaptation by Simon Reade of Christopher Isherwood’s genre-defining novel. Set in California in 1962, the play follows a day in the life of college lecturer, George; a middle-aged, gay Englishman coming to terms with the isolation caused by the sudden death of his partner Jim.

The play opens with George (Theo Fraser Steele) sleeping – a single man in a single bed. Two Paramedics (Phoebe Pryce & Freddie Gaminara) appear spirit-like running through a checklist of George’s awakening, helping him to wash, get dressed and start his day. The dialogue runs as a narrative, a commentary. The ghost of Jim (Miles Molan) wanders through the apartment and kisses George good morning.

For the first part of the day, we see George driving to work, teaching his students, and shopping. But a meeting of the neighbours illustrates the daily prejudice George must face. His college class turns into a discussion of the minority versus the majority and making food choices becomes pointless when one is cooking for just one. George wallows in his isolation. Fraser Steele is perfect in this role: in a smart suit and tie, thick glasses and brilliantined hair, speaking in a rich sardonic baritone, he looks and sounds the part.

The first-rate ensemble comes and goes around George who is ever-present on stage, entering and exiting through the audience seated on three sides of the action. Minimal props are used and versatile trucks are slid or rotated to form the bed, a car, a dining table. (Set and Costume Designer Caitlin Abbot). The movement is slick, marred only be the occasional masking. One scene in the far corner of the stage, where George sits on the toilet, is totally lost, at least from my seat (Director Philip Wilson). The subtle use of sound effects is excellent (Beth Duke) – George urinating, honking his car horn, or in one delightful moment, George’s books talking to him: “One at a time” says George as the books all gibber away together.

The second half brings with it an unexpected change in style, and we hear more about characters other than just George. Life-long English friend Charley (Olivia Darnley), another lonely outsider, wants to get closer to George but he pushes her away. Darnley’s portrayal of a G.I. bride, abandoned by both husband and teenage son, is dynamic and moving.

The following scene in which George meets his student Kenny (Miles Molan) in a bar is the standout scene of the evening. Kenny is loud, brash, and wearing the tightest of t-shirts. The simmering conversation between the two brims with unspoken lust and sexual tension.

George returns to his single bed, drunk, and the Paramedics reappear in their hospital whites with their clip boards to see the day through to its conclusion.

Does this audience feel empathy for George? His situation is certainly tragic but much of his loneliness is self-inflicted. He doesn’t know how to move on from his past to find a new present. We can see George as a portrayal of Everyman. Or more correctly Every(gay)man. And through him, this beautifully presented play exposes pertinent questions about societal responsibility, and prejudice. And pleas for our understanding of people’s hidden loneliness, isolation and otherness.



Reviewed on 21st October 2022

by Phillip Money

Photography by Mitzi de Margary


Previously reviewed at this venue:


When Darkness Falls | ★★★ | August 2021
Flushed | ★★★★ | October 2021
Abigail’s Party | ★★★★ | November 2021
Little Women | ★★★★ | November 2021
Cratchit | ★★★ | December 2021
Julie Madly Deeply | ★★★★ | December 2021
Another America | ★★★ | April 2022
The End of the Night | ★★ | May 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | August 2022



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Wilton’s Music Hall



Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 6th June 2022



“Gethin Alderman relishes the opportunity to show off his versatile speaking voice”


This ingenious new play by Rachel Garnet takes on the theme of love but rather than offer up the age-old story of Romeo and Juliet’s star-crossed lovers it runs with the what-if possibility that Romeo’s friend Mercutio and his deadly enemy Tybalt should be struck by the same love arrow. We are given not a new version of R&J but a parallel story, a tale that is there but not explored in Shakespeare’s play. In so doing, we also get a fascinating origin story for Tybalt.

The production looks and sounds Shakespearean. A simple wooden stage (Set & Costume Designer Ruari Murchison) with a central double door and doors on the left and right provide a perfect symmetry and the opportunity for quick and versatile entrances and exits. Garnet’s text incorporates lines from the original alongside her own – drawing audience laughs and sighs of appreciation when recognised – and she deserves huge plaudits that this interpolation doesn’t sound contrived. The cast of three are dressed in doublets and hose with simple accoutrements where required and obligatory rapiers at their sides.

The Player (Gethin Alderman) sets the scene, immediately breaking the fourth wall with knowing looks to the audience and gentle clowning. He will continue to do this during scene changes to remind us we are watching just the telling of a story. He is joined by Mercutio (Connor Delves) and Tybalt (Tommy Sim’aan) for a rousing three-part harmony rendition of the Scottish folk song Twa Corbies and we know our evening is in safe hands.

Philip Wilson’s masterly direction has the three actors skipping light-footedly around the stage and only towards the very end of the piece does their pace and intensity begin to wane. Gethin Alderman relishes the opportunity to show off his versatile speaking voice in the many multi-roles he fulfils: a touch of Prince Charles about Lord Capulet, a smattering of Scottish for the Friar, a bit twee for Paris, and an aggressive Londoner for the beggar Salvatore. The largest laugh of the evening is brought about by his coy falsetto for an appearance of Juliet herself.

The role of the Player ties everything together around the main scenes between the two fateful lovers. Tommy Sim’aan’s war-mongering Tybalt undergoes the biggest journey. Beginning with macho posturing and showing off his fearsome sword play, we hear that maintaining his aggressive reputation is to secure his position within the house of Capulet. It takes a surprising kiss to throw him off guard and we share his confusion as Sim’aan drops the posturing façade and brings his voice down to a velvet undertone. The power of the kiss brings out the Prince of Cat’s inner kitten and has the strength to potentially end a conflict.

That kiss has come from the wastrel Mercutio as a means to distract Tybalt from seeing and therefore fighting with Romeo (another role for The Player). In a dashing red doublet, Delves plays the wine-happy party animal just on the right side of camp. Mercutio is out for a good time and to live for today until that kiss changes his life too.

The occasional song to the strumming of a mandolin lightens the mood as Tybalt and Mercutio strive to find a future. The three actors work superbly together – there is no weak link. Garnet’s poetry is clearly projected and there is no holding back during the raunchy bits either.

Not since Tom Stoppard’s exploration of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern has there been such an audacious rewrite of Shakespearean off-stage antics.


Reviewed by Phillip Money

Photography by Pamela Raith



Wilton’s Music Hall until 25th June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Roots | ★★★★★ | October 2021
The Child in the Snow | ★★★ | December 2021
The Ballad of Maria Marten | ★★★½ | February 2022


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