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Kenny Morgan - Arcola Theatre (Review)

Kenny Morgan

Review by Shanna Schreuder

AWARD-winning playwright Mike Poulton successfully mixes fiction with fact to bring to life the real events and people that inspired Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea.

Following a similar dramatic structure as Rattigan’s classic work, Kenny Morgan also begins with the attempted suicide by a tenant in a London boarding house.

In this version, the victim is actor Kenneth Morgan, Rattigan’s on-off partner, who after years of trying to move in with the playwright eventually gives up and sets up house together with aspiring actor Alec Lennox. Although he is desperate to be loved by Alec, Kenny knows full well that his feelings will never be reciprocated and thus seeks to end his life in front of the gas fire.

His attempt fails because he’s forgotten to put a shilling in the meter, but enough gas has filled the front room to, along with the eight aspirins, knock him unconscious and alert his neighbour, Dafydd Lloyd, to the poisonous substance.

Lloyd quickly calls on the landlady, Mrs Simpson, to bring the spare key to find out the cause of the problem.

Once inside, they find Kenny slumped on the floor and instead of informing the police they call on struck-off doctor Mr Ritter, another tenant in the building, to help revive him. Desperate to help further, the pair decide to telephone the first name in Kenny’s phone book – Terence Rattigan – who races over in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce to help his lost love.

Paul Keating as Kenneth Morgan is totally brilliant from start to finish, as he moves from embarrassed yet utterly charming neighbour to cocky, arrogant ex-partner of Rattigan, while slipping in and out of being the desperate, needy lover of Alec.

Simon Dutton’s Rattigan is composed throughout, never letting the mask slip for a moment, while Pierro Niel-Mee’s Alec Lennox is totally callous and quite unpleasant, which is such a stark contrast to the unpretentious, kind nature and gentle speech of Matthew Bulgo’s Dafydd Lloyd.

Marlene Sidaway is also spot on as the sharp-tongued, yet good-hearted Mrs Simpson and George Irving’s straight-talking Mr Ritter adds some much needed sense to the tragic situation.

Kenny Morgan is a brilliantly acted, emotionally engaging night at the theatre that comes highly recommended, particularly if you’re already a fan of Rattigan’s work.

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Kenny Morgan runs at Arcola Theatre from May 23, 2016 until June 18, 2016.

Tickets: £19/£15 with 500 tickets at just £10. Opening performances (May 18 – 21) – all tickets £12. Pay What You Can Tuesdays (tickets in person from 6pm – limited and subject to availability). Tickets are £10 or less with Arcola Passport.

Times: Monday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 3pm.