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Out of the darkness comes Love of a Good Man



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 show’s subject matter was just as grim. But out of the darkness shone many a star, as the performances of all involved were fantastic!

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.

It’s a particularly nasty job, and certainly not one where you’d 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 son’s 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 country’s 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 don’t believe it is Barker’s 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

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