Review of “Tonight at 8:30” at Brighton’s Theatre Royal
During this captivating and melodramatic trilogy of short plays the audience is astounded by the crossover of plots that so closely reflect scenarios we face in reality. To this effect the representation of character pairings through each story is potent and captivates the viewers down to the most sincere and fragile levels of emotion.
In our first helping of stagecraft in ‘Ways and Means’ we are overwhelmed by the pure rivalry to which Mr & Mrs Cartwright have amongst themselves, as well as the outward deceit they convey to the secondary characters in the story. Under this pretense Kirsty Besterman and Gyuri Sarossy do themselves justice with their compelling performances and undoubted relationship for you to think the marriage was more than just a show. With the small disputes and instant apologies it leaves you with no less than how a marriage is represented in society. During their brief moments of insanity and procrastinations you can see an intricate dilemma unfold.
On a side note to this it must also be mentioned that Daniel Crossley’s portrayal of the character ‘Stevens’ was strong and unnerved during the rollercoaster of emotional transitions during the final scene.
The second production from Coward’s collection of 9 one act plays was ‘Fumed Oak’. In this picture the decrease of acting roles gives way to an uprise of exquisite suspense and character transformations. From the combatants of a mother and daughter, to the rebellion of an exasperated father, you can begin to form the very connection with the latter so quickly under these conditions. The depiction of ‘Henry Gower’ was at first silent and under a form of blunted affect. This is vastly revitalized with Peter Singh’s focused aggression and frustration towards his family, and with this I applaud the dedication he has made to this role.
The third dramatisation can only be expressed by the words in its title: ‘Still Life’. Although that is the case you can begin to understand the pressure each set of characters experiences during the ordeal of the show. The two secondary relationships form a veil over the spotlighted couple with less emotional depictions and light hearted humour. Shereen Martin & Gyuri Sarossy take the issue at hand and truly give great power towards the torture and pain they experience throughout their extended suffering. The use of tweaked sketches under the same environment prolongs the inevitable destruction of this pairing but even until the very end you are left surprised with plot changes and twists. Leaving this as one not to be missed.
As penultimate thoughts will go I cannot give a word of discredit towards any of the actors on their performances. They are effective and engaging right down to the final speeches and this is something I personally do not experience often. Leaving the final direction to say that during its time in the 1930s these works of art were astounding, now some 80 years later the feeling is still the same. Congratulations to Noël Coward for sharing this incredible gift.
Review by Jamie Harding
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