By Gerald Sibleyras, Wyndham's Theatre
OH, the emptiness of the firstnight glamour crowd.
They push in, determined to laugh loud at every half-joke, 'doing their bit' for Trevor or Kevin or whichever fashionable pasha of production has slipped them a ticket. By their strained exertions they wreck the pace of a perfectly subtle drama.
So it proved last night. Tom Stoppard, Grade A darlink of the mwaw-mwaw set, has translated this gentle French play. It is set in 1959 in a home for First World War invalids.
Three old soldiers, damaged by war, discuss their reduced routines of 'room, terrace, tepid soup, beddie-bye'.
One of the men (Ken Stott), shrapnel still lodged in his skull, suffers babbling blackouts.
Another (John Hurt) tries to conceal his agoraphobia. The third (Richard Griffiths), lame, is desperate for friendship and bland happiness.
Gerald Sibleyras has written a delicate play, both comic and sad. Owing to the klaxon-heads who attended last night's opening, the leavening of pathos was badly reduced.