A sexy and sinister take on the Big Brother theme

Preview by Paul Nelson

A BRITISH premiere of a play by Susana Tampieri, Condor, is enjoying a run at the Rose and Crown Theatre, Hampton Wick.

Susana Tampieri is a prolific Argentine writer with 22 staged plays under her belt, and judging by this one, if the rest are merely half as good, they should be seen in this country too. This play is about insecurity. Hardly surprising when one thinks of the country where it originated.

Martin is a middle class businessman, he owns a rather nice house in a suburb. He also owns the empty plot of ground next door. He is edgy about his neighbours, he thinks they are not up to the standard of the district and is worried about his safety and that of his family, a wife and daughter, and a son away at university.

He consequently calls in a security service, personified by Salvador, or Condor as he prefers to be known. When a brick is thrown through the window, from his own spare land, Condor takes over the running of the house as well as possession of the house keys, warns endlessly about little measures that must be taken for security reasons and generally puts the wind up Martin and Ines, his wife. Not that they didn't have the wind up before.

To calm Ines Condor makes love to her and makes it quite clear to us that he intends also to make love to the daughter, Monona, given half a chance.

Martin fears that things are tending to get out of hand when he returns to the house and finds that the lights don't work. There is a strange noise coming from upstairs. It is Condor, he is planning to move into the room once occupied by the family's grandmother, now deceased.

When Martin realises his phone is being tapped he calls for Condor, who is furious that Martin has found out about it and from that moment the family's lives are never the same.

It is a fascinating play and brings a fresh approach to the Big Brother theme. It also has some extremely amusing as well as deadly serious moments, which give the necessary creepiness to the situation. The cast bring it off entertainingly and very well.

As Condor, Ralph Mondi has the right amount of sexual overcharge as well as being oddly sinister. Tony O'Brien in the much more difficult role of a self assured businessman gradually falling under the spell of a terror he cannot see and isn't really sure is there plays his role with a growing and glistening terror. His moment of authority coming as it does after an evening of dither and doubt is a well thought out and crafted piece of acting.

Annette Ross as Ines is also excellent in another difficult role. She has an earthy and sweaty sexual appeal that runs against the grain of her being a sensible wife and mother, her submission to Condor begins with the boot on the other foot. She firmly believes she is in charge of the situation, just as she is with any other situation.

As Monona, the daughter, Dominique Gerrard almost steals the evening. Is she an airhead, a drug taker, or just a young girl, silly at times?

This play is a definite must for anyone who is even faintly uneasy about creeping interference in privacy. The author ends it on a wry note well worth seeing.

Pictures show Annette Ross and Ralph Mondi in a scene from Condor.

Condor, written and translated by Susana Tampieri, Directed by Susana Figueredo, Set and Costume Design by Mila Sanders, WITH Tony O'Brien (Martin), Annette Ross (Ines), Ralph Mondi (Condor), Dominique Gerrard (Monona). Presented by the Latin American Theatre Company in co-production with The Rose and Crown Theatre at The Rose and Crown Theatre, 59-61 High Street, Hampton Wick. (1 minute BR Station Hampton Wick). Tickets 020 8296 9100, until August 3 at 8pm Tuesday-Saturday.

Click here for the Rose & Crown Theatre website...