Sunday, 23 October 2022

REVIEW: Something in the Air at the Jermyn Street Theatre

The ageing process can bestow many gifts. It gives us knowledge, wisdom and a greater appreciation of life. But it also steals time - the most precious commodity of all. We cling to memories as they fragment and lose their clarity but the past will always bring comfort. Peter Gill's new play lands in a care home and tells a charming story of lost youth and sad reflection. Two elderly gentlemen relate the tale of their greatest love whilst dutiful relatives ponder the future. The spectre of past love revisits to show who truly stirred their passion.

With a blanket draped across his knees, Alex (Christopher Godwin) describes a fateful first meeting in Hammersmith. Meanwhile, Colin (Ian Gelder) sketches a spikey and playful encounter in Soho. Both drift in and out of slumber as they discreetly hold hands. Twentysomethings Nick (James Schofield) and Gareth (Sam Thorpe-Spinks) appear in their dreams and recreate conversations from the past. Alex's son Andrew (Andrew Woodall) fills in his backstory whilst Clare (Claire Price) does the same for her uncle Colin.

A play crammed with dialogue places all six characters on stage as they simultaneously deliver lines adding depth to Alex and Colin’s story. Whilst this is central to the interplay between the characters, it can sometimes be difficult to follow. The rhythmic delivery is challenging but compelling as an excellent script comes to the fore. Vivid memories of London in the 1950s are painted in a glorious hue. The 1960s receive the same treatment as diffidence gave way to newly found confidence and liberalism. But the shackles that confined them continued to haunt and hinder a life lived in shadow. The right to be who they are seemingly coming too late as convention took control. Andrew and Claire seem oblivious to their early life and blindsided by the intimacy they now share. But inevitably personal issues are bubbling beneath the surface. Whilst there is an undeniable pathos about the play it still has its lighter moments, which nestle with broader dilemmas about caring for the elderly and fighting the evil presence of dementia.

Peter Gill has fashioned a superbly judged piece complemented by a superlative cast. It passed in the blink of an eye and ended just as it got going. The ability to paint pictures with words is a rare talent and evidence of a craftsman at work. It was an all too short 65 minutes that will leave you wanting much more.
Review by Brian Penn

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: D9 | Price of Ticket: £33/£29 concessions
Blog Design by pipdig