Magazine article The Spectator

Sound and Fury

Magazine article The Spectator

Sound and Fury

Article excerpt

I crossed London to see Crossing Jerusalem. The curtain rose at 8 p.m. By 9.15 I was crossing London again, I'm afraid. The plot of Julia Pascal's noisy new play is both elaborate and threadbare. A Jewish family visits an Arab restaurant in east Jerusalem. One of the waiters is the son of their former gardener and he interrupts their meal demanding compensation for his dad's work-related injuries. The family refuses. There is a lot of shouting, then a lot more shouting, then an interval. Suzanne Bertish, playing the mother, has so much style and wit about her that it's hard to believe she has wound up as a struggling estate agent. Nor would such an attractive personality settle for a husband like Sergei, a fat, bald, kind-hearted slob of a taxi-driver beautifully played by Constantine Gregory.

These actors have far too much talent for their roles. The younger players far too little. The dramatic transitions are so slight and contrived that they stifle rather than excite one's attention. The dialogue is stilted and over-engineered. Even after 45 minutes, the actors are making remarks that would sound clumsy during a scene of exposition. `I'm your sister.' `It's my birthday. I'm 30 today.' The characters themselves are half-human, half-argument all grudge, grievance, grimace and gizzard. The first act felt like one of those For/Against columns in the Independent doggedly adapted for the theatre - everything perfectly balanced and banal.

What the second act held, I cannot say. In the interval I sat in the bar, savouring my Shiraz and my chagrin. After ten minutes an explosion of bing-bonging bells and a shrieking voice summoned me back for Act 11. Nothing could induce me to return, not even the sight of Harold Pinter, the noted war-poet, striding back into the punishment chamber. I should add, in fairness, that the theatre was full and the audience seemed to be enjoying something. God knows what.

There are too many small theatres in London. Too many upstairs nooks and converted function rooms, too many basements and alcoves and white-washed priest-holes where troupes of show-offs enact fantasies of stardom for cliques of misguided devotees. The names of these venues range from the breezily optimistic - `The Space', `The Place', `The Gallery', `The Platform' - to the eye-stabbingly ironic, `The Futility Room,' `The Pit', `The Gallows', `The Room Above The Pub Below'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.