Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Coffee Hour - The Third Place, 27/7 Festival Manchester

The Coffee Hour
Writer: Mike Peacock
Director: Amanda Hennessy
Reviewer: Clare Howdon

‘The Coffee Hour’ written by Mike Peacock (who also performs) opens in a Coffee Shop where two strangers Adam and Laura literally bump into each other. Despite an initial animosity on Laura’s part, this ‘chance’ meeting very quickly blossoms into a confessional tale of why Laura is drinking alone and the two strangers end up spending the night together. However, throughout this 50 minute piece on the complexities of grief, nothing is ever as black and white as it seems and Adam’s final confession to Laura leaves her heart and mind in complete disarray.

In terms of the writing, there are some moments of promise particularly in the opening scene. However as the play progresses the whole far-fetched scenario begins to grate. The fact that everything is spelt out and discussed in such detail prevents any sort of sub-text from forming and nothing is left to the audience’s imagination.

Instead of creating what could have been an enticing ‘Brief Encounter’ style piece where these two strangers are involuntarily thrust together and despite their reasoning or logic can’t seem to walk away; the obvious and outmoded writing makes this piece feel more like a TIE performance on the dangers of drink-driving.

The pace of the production moves along quite nicely and Mike Peacock and Sarah Wylie deliver strong individual performances. However the chemistry between the characters is never quite there and the conversation and humour appears strained and contrived. Unfortunately by the end of the production, you don’t particularly feel sympathy or empathy towards either character nor believe the relationship that has formed between them.
frontpage hit counter