THE MIGHTY BEAN

Who knew Mackenzie/Stalemate/Gone

Rank Zerox/Royal Court
Young Writers' Festival
Theatre Upstairs
26 June - 20 July 1985

WHO KNEW MACKENZIE?
A Play by Brian Hilton

Marie.................Lesley Sharp
Angela................Hetta Charnley
William...............Alan Leith
Emma..................Elizabeth Bell
David.................Jonathan Phillips
Terry.................Sean Bean

followed by

STALEMATE
A Play by Emily Fuller

Michael...............Alan Leith
Alice.................Elizabeth Bell
Ben...................Jonathan Phillips
French Woman..........Lesley Sharp
Estate Agent..........Sean Bean
Phillis...............Hetta Charnley

followed by

GONE
A Play by Elizabeth Krechowiecka

Patsy.................Lesley Sharp
Ange..................Hetta Charnley
Art...................Sean Bean
Ol....................Jonathan Phillips
Mr. Eatum.............Alan Leith
Mrs. Wright...........Elizabeth Bell

Directed by: .........Simon Curtis
Decor: ...............Paul Brown
Lighting: ............Chris Toulain
Sound: ...............Andy Pink

(Also in the Festival: Workshop productions of Facing Up,
by Brian Parsons and Half Return by Elizabeth Swain;
readings of younger writers' work - The Arcade by Laura Jones,
Consequences by Kate Bryer, Dear Aunt Agony by Sophie Bates,
Karen Boyce and Joanne Hinton, and A Hard Life by Marie Bartlett).

 

Source: The Compleat Sean Bean

The Times Review

Thanks to Toastie, a 1985 The Times review


Out of the 400 or so scripts submitted for. its 'Young Writers' Festival, the Royal Court has chosen to present three main productions. Even allowing them to be representative of the entries as a whole, it would be nugatory to search for trends in such a tiny sample. but it may fairly be said that these three plays by teenage writers evince a triumph of content over form: to varying degrees they are attractive by virtue of their observation of life rather than through any obvious dramatic excellence.

Who Knew Mackenzie? by Brian Hilton is a quietly-voiced account of a young woman's dawning awareness of the larger world outside her door. Although she hardly knew him, she feels moved to attend the funeral of the titular neighbour. The old man's grandson invites her to the wake where, curiously, she finds her name already on the guest-list, and where, sadly, she is the only one to join the family. Nobody particularly cared about her neighbour and it is left to her to sort out his letters in an attempt to discover the real man.

Mr Hilton's play achieves a wistful mood which is betrayed by uncertainty of tone - not a problem with Emily Fuller's Stalemate, a disturbingly perceptive portrait of a housewife's frustration which shows promise of nascent comic talent. The central figure yearns for all the things her dull routine cannot bring her - exotic holidays, cash prizes, tabloid cliches of romance - while having to face the reality of her situation: a husband who does nothing but play himself at chess, and a sullen son who treats her with lordly and even sadistic disdain. Only when she breaks down and starts smashing crockery do the men in her family behave at all considerately - but a few seconds later they are back in character and she is back talking to herself.

In the most ambitious of these plays, Gone by Elizabeth Krechowiecka, a couple of girls on holiday by the sea pick up two brothers and valiantly endeavour to hold their interest without going "'all the way". Here is an age-old theme sympathetically treated and given a contemporary edge by the minutiae of what can only be called T-shirt literacy and by the fact that the elder brother, a naval rating, is haunted by the death of a friend in the Falklands. Unfortunately, the "concerned" speeches that pop-up as if from nowhere tend to mar the naturalistic freshness of' the foursome's exchanges. An energetic company directed by Simon Curtis do the playwrights proud, no more so than Sean Bean, who shows what an impelling performer he can be when given a role to get his teeth into.

Martin Cropper
Theatre festival
Content over form
Young Writers ¬Ė Royal Court Upstairs
The Times July 2 1985

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