Review by David Munro
TO REVIEW a play whose ending cannot be disclosed postulates
a problem for a dramatic critic.
In this case, the problem is compounded by the fact that this
dramatic critic did not find the rest of the play, even without
the ending, very credible and with the ending even less so.
I think I may be permitted to tell you that the play opens with
a woman, played by Sarah Thomas, arriving to take up possession
of a furnished flat.
Shortly thereafter, she attempts to replace a light bulb and
injures her leg so she is confined to the flat for the rest of
the performance. The light bulb never apparently was replaced,
or if it was it was never lit and this obscurity permeated the
set and the rest of the play.
Suffice it to say that a helpful neighbour, Ida Smith (Wendy
Windle), takes control, or so she thinks, and tries to help the
Sarah Thomas character who is now named, (and I don’t think,
dear reader, the author would mind my telling you this), Janet
Owen, to cope with her infirmity.
Janet - when not talking to Ida or the other characters who invade
her privacy to wit another neighbour, Jimmy Panatelli (Kenny Reid),
a Doctor (Richard Myrad) and a soi-disant ex-lover, Jason, (Charles
Neville) - writes letters to an MP and holds discussions with
her laptop which appears omniscient, knowing, and even criticising,
what she is doing.
As you appreciate, a touch of fantasy
permeates this play and I will go no further than to say when
all is revealed the word 'McGuffin' comes to mind.
I felt very sorry for the actors in this farrago of nonsense.
They do their best, and their best is very good, as is Martin
Cort’s direction which whips the action up into a spanking
pace which almost, but not quite, makes one suspend belief for
long enough to accept that there is some sense, or even a rational
explanation, for what is happening on stage.
Despite all their valiant efforts, I was unable at the final
curtain to fathom what message the authoress, Mary Renton, intended
the play to deliver.
Was it a moral tract, as Janet is all sweetness and light for
most of the play, delivering dollops of advice and comfort to
all around her while at the same time in a dilemma with Jason,
her voice from the past?
Or did she intend the play as a fantasy pure and simple? This
and other questions I found unresolved when I left the theatre
and remain so as I try to review the play fairly.
I must admit my companion was not assailed with the same doubts
as I, and found the whole evening delightful and amusing, so it
may be I am reading too much into the play and its authoress’s
I therefore can only advise you to go and see it and make your
own mind up – you could find the experience rewarding.
Dear Mr Kennedy… by Mary Renton.
Directed by Martin Cort.
Designed by Jonathan Boast.
Lighting by Nicki Rensten.
The Hen And Chickens Theatre St Pauls Road, Highbury Corner, Islington
Performances at 8pm Tuesday to Saturday - Sunday 4pm (No performance
Box Office: 020 7704 2001