Review: The Astonished Heart/On Tidy Endings, Lace Market Theatre, by Alan Geary
This is a well-packed, value for money evening. Two one-act plays offer great contrast, yet in each of them a stable marriage is destroyed by a third party entering the picture – with tragic consequences in both cases.
Noël Coward's The Astonished Heart, starts near the end then goes back a year to the start before returning to the end. Leonora, an old school "friend" of Barbara, turns up with designs on her husband Christian (Gavin Alston) and eventually gets her wicked way.
Monika Johnson, with her striking looks and languid drawl, makes Leonora insinuating, sly and manipulative. As Barbara, the moral centre, Clare Choubey gives a performance of real subtlety.
Doreen Hunt's twenties costumes are outstanding.
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In Harvey Fierstein's On Tidy Endings, set in the eighties, a man has died of AIDS leaving his male partner, and his ex-wife and their eleven-year-old son. The partner and ex-wife meet at the apartment to settle legal affairs. At first all is business-like, then recriminations start flying. Finally a respectful understanding is arrived at, which recognises mutual loss.
In an evening of notable female performances Maeve Doggett, as Marion, keeps the audience with her as she passes through the three stages. Doggett, who also tackled an American in her last play, seems to be going from strength to strength on stage. Neil Duckmanton, as Arthur, also does excellent work.
The American setting is well realised, particularly as regards accents.
This is yet more rewarding and nourishing fare from the Lace Market Theatre.
The Astonished Heart/On Tidy Endings is at the Lace Market Theatre till Saturday, 24th November