Thursday, 30 October 2014

Distance by Deborah Bruce directed by Charlotte Gwinner with Helen Baxendale, Clare Lawrence-Moody and Emma Beattie

Distance writ multiple: it’s geographical, it’s time passing and it’s proximal. The neat, in-the-round space of The Orange Tree in Charlotte Gwinner’s absorbing production, sees Bea (Helen Baxendale) turn her back on her children in Melbourne, Australia. Now she’s in middle-class cosiness in kate's flat, Brighton. Bea is Ibsen’s Nora, 21st century-style, after the infamous door slam. Kate the control-freak and Alex, border-line intoxicant, join her in what to do about Beatrice as they pick clean notions of motherhood, friendship and life; meanwhile a contemporary context is provided through the backdrop of the Tottenham riots, 2011, on phones, the internet and TV. Deborah Bruce’s writing shows her director’s credentials: forthright with three strong, contrasting female leads. The male perspective is real and full of humour, balanced by Dewi, Kate’s husband, Liam, Alex’s fifteen year old son and Vinnie, Dewi’s straight-talking brother. The pace is cracking, particularly in the bitter-sweet first half, with expert cross-overs and dove-tailing. Bruce ultimately provides no answers to Bea’s dilemma, but the play’s two hours traffic just cruises by.......A treat! 

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