Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Laundry – Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, London

Writer: Joe Ward Munrow
Director: Mark Leipacher
Reviewer: Gareth Ellis

I accepted the opportunity to the see The Laundry at the Brockley Jack because it is set in Liverpool, and being a Liverpudlian I was excited to get a taste of the city I miss. Although a couple of references are made to the city, I feel the play might have worked better if the exact location was not defined, as saying it was set in Liverpool seemed quite inconsequential, being that it is in a basement; the same as any basement in any other city, the only difference being this one has an old scouser in it.

Moving onto the aforementioned scouser (Terry, played by Chris Bearne), when he began to speak I was very surprised to hear one of the worst scouse accents ever uttered on stage. His voice was animated if nothing else…maybe it would be better if Terry spoke in a Beatles-esque lilt, rather than sounding like a cockney who has lived in the midlands impersonating Leonard Rossiter in Rising Damp. It was akin to Dick Van Dyke’s cockney, but worse. Hearing it might be worth the ticket price alone.

Although Chris Bearne’s performance was marred by his chosen accent, his performance was full of the required aplomb and comedy moments were handled with skill. The relationship between Terry and Ben, played by the brilliant Sam Millard, was also portrayed in a skilful manner. Millard played Ben in a sensitive and powerful way which left us feeling deeply for the character, he must be commended for his powerful performance.

The first act established the setting and characters well, but at times seemed like some things in the writing were just there for the sake of it. Also, the development of the main characters’ relationship seemed rushed at times, and may have benefited in the writing focusing on the truth and not rushing instead of opting for cheap laughs at times, though most of the comedy was well placed. The second act was gripping compared to the first, and unravelled to reveal an unpredictable climax; which turned this play from a piece about the relationship between young and old, one life ending and one beginning, into a play questioning how we spend our lives and the choices we make and how our actions impact upon others.

Runs until 5th March.
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