The York Realist, by Peter Gill
English Touring Theatre
Bristol Old Vic, until Saturday 24th November 2001
by Paul Stephens, BBC Bristol
Peter Gill's engaging new play The York Realist is a moving love story set among working class farming folk on the outskirts of the northern town in the early 60s.
The aesthete, middle class, John (Richard Coyle) has come to York to work as assistant director on an amateur production of the medieval Mystery Plays.
While at work he meets and falls for working class George (Lloyd Owen) who has joined the cast.
The central tension of the play revolves around John's burning desire to persuade his new partner to move to London and George's reluctance to leave his ailing mother and his agricultural roots at the heart of the rural community.
Along the way — as one might expect from someone as prominent at the Royal Court in the 1960s as Peter Gill — there is a thought-provoking examination of the stifling English class system and the nature of the family unit itself.
There are excellent performances from the two male leads, Anne Reid as the mother, Caroline O'Neill (Barbara) and Wendy Nottingham as the neighbourly Doreen, while Ian Mercer (Arthur) and Felix Bell (Jack) both offer strong, convincing support performances.
Peter Gill's direction is unobtrusive and maintains a steady unwavering pace throughout. The play runs at the Old Vic until Saturday, 24th November — do see it if you can.
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