Review by Emma Whitelaw
DESPITE the horrendous weather, there was a full house for Love
of a Good Man at the Union Theatre on Tuesday night.
Perhaps the adverse conditions were indicative of things to come,
as the shows subject matter was just as grim. But out of
the darkness shone many a star, as the performances of all involved
Written by Howard Barker, Love of a Good Man is set in 1920.
It is the tale of the British soldiers who were left behind to
clean up the mess of The Great War.
The war has been over for two years, yet these men are still
required to serve their King and Country by endeavoring to dig
up the thousands of bodies buried in the mud of the battlefields,
on which they fought and perished.
Its a particularly nasty job, and certainly not one where
youd expect to find love. But, among the thorns, emerges
a beautiful rose, one with cheekbones to die for!
The stunning Clare Barrett plays Lalage, the obliging daughter
accompanying Mrs Toynbee (Andrea Newland), in her search to find
her dead sons body, and take it home to England for burial.
Mrs Toynbee is manipulative, conniving and knows how to make
men quiver at the knees. She works her magic on Mr Hacker, played
by the ever so talented Ian Rixon.
Hacker is the undertaker commissioned to design and make the
war graves for Hill 60 - Paschendale. He is obviously in it for
the money, but once he lays eyes upon Mrs Toynbee, he finds a
whole new inspiration her arse!
The women are very much a novelty among the men. They serve as
a welcome distraction to the gory task at hand. But its not only
the soldiers that take a liking to the ladies, the Prince of Wales
is also among their many admirers.
Pietro Herrera got many a giggle as the idiotic Prince, who feels
it is his duty to demonstrate the countrys gratitude for
the soldiers efforts.
In fact, in the face of such a horrific plot, Barker still manages
to raise a few laughs with comical characters such as the prince.
I dont believe it is Barkers intention to make light
of a subject so somber as the futility of war. Moreover, I feel
he uses humour as a means to alleviate what could easily become
a very depressing production.
Love of a Good Man is certainly not depressing; it is
poignant, moving and significant, especially in light of more
recent world events.
Love of a Good Man, written by Howard Barker. Directed by
Chris Thomas. Starring Pietro Herrera, Toby H Wicks, Rich Toynton,
Ian Rixon, Robert Shilton, Alastair Trevill, Jonathon Dunstan,
Merryn Owen, Dermot Dolan, Andrea Newland, Clare Barret and Adam
Booth. Lighting designed by Steve Miller. April 13 to May 1 at
the Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, Southwark SE1. Box Office
020 7261 9876.
NB: Our picture shows Clare Barrett (Lalage) and Merryn Owen
(Riddle) in a scene from the production. Kindly supplied by stagephoto.co.uk