Sunday, 16 July 2017

'Twilight Song' at Park Theatre

Last week we went to see 'Twilight Song', the last play by Kevin Elyot before he died, at Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. Kevin Elyot wrote 'My Night With Reg' which was revived by the Donmar Warehouse in 2014 before transferring to the West End. Like 'Reg', 'Twilight Song' is full of gay (and possibly bisexual) characters with the exception of the lone woman in the cast (well, as far as the text suggests anyway). It's a small ensemble piece and lasts about 75 minutes and that's the right length for this piece. Warning: SPOILERS.  

It's a tale of a small middle class family of no consequence fifty years apart, set in both 2017 and in 1967. The year 1967 is prominently signalled by references to the Beatles world-wide performance of 'All You Need Is Love' (I wonder how much using that song costs the production?). The play opens in 2017 with an estate agent, Skinner, looking over the old Victorian villa that Barry is interested in selling. He lives there with his mother who is out for the day. After some banter and some truths Barry asks Skinner how he earns the extra money they're talking about and he says he fucks women and men. It is rather out of the blue but does make sense of the almost-flirting earlier. Barry hands over the money and the scene changes to 50 years earlier with newly married Basil (Barry's dad) and Isabella (his mother) having recently moved into the house and taking their Uncle Charles and family friend Harry out to dinner to thank them for their help in buying the house. The two older men are secretly lovers and have been for years.

Through various twists and turns we learn that Harry commits suicide because he is being blackmailed and we also learn that the worker renovating the garden is not only Harry's blackmailer but the father of Barry's younger brother who went missing when he was a baby. Earlier in the play we learn that the gardener wanted a baby and Skinner tells us that his dad came into some money at short notice and emigrated to Australia after his mother died. Coincidence? Or is he family?

The casting probably helps with that question since Adam Garcia plays both Skinner and the gardener and Paul Higgins plays Basil and Barry (i.e. father and son). Bryony Hannah played Isabella in both 1967 and in 2017 - she did good limp with a walker to stress her age but I think the simple addition of a grey wig might've helped. The old blokes were Hugh Ross and Philip Bretherton.

It's a bit of a strange play in many ways and, although it doesn't have the immediacy of 'My Night With Reg', it's stuck in my head.

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