Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Times review
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Five slices of modern life

A festival of new plays

The Cottesloe

Review by Martin Cropper, The Times, 8 November 1985

The National Theatre Studio's season of new work continues with these five slices of modern life; four of them intend to amuse, and two of them have no overt drug-taking whatever.

Alex Renton's A Twist of Lemon has Nigel Le Vaillant as an intense, swivel-eyed hooray taking a day off commodity broking in order to devote his energies to his heroin habit. Not that he has a habit, he assures us: his use of the drug is purely recreational, 'the ultimate naughtiness'.

On the other hand, his bank has torn up his cheque card and he has to hock his television set before meeting The Man outside Fulham Broadway tube station. All this is horribly authentic.

Rod Smith's Sunday Morning, introduced by the Velvet Underground song of the name, is the only one of these plays to be directed by John Burgess instead of Peter Gill. A keen amateur photographer (Stephen Petcher) finds his Sabbath distrubed by a thick-skinned, garrulous pot head (David Cardy), by an unseen Jehovah's Witness, and lastly by his peevish wife (Chrissie Cotterill).

Escaping to the open air, he gets put in his place by a stock enigmatic Sunday painter (Kate Fahy) and returns to the bosom of his family a reformed character.

If this seems a pointless exercise, Mr Gill's own authorial effort In The Blue raises pointlessness to the level of art without sustaining dramatic interest. A drop-out Civil Servant turned hospital auxiliary (Michael Maloney) and a Glaswegian rent boy manque (Evan Stewart) play verbal badminton with a sample-book of short one-liners ('I'll be off, then — 'Have you got my number?' — 'Do you want me to stay?' etc) which ultimately become an apparently random collage.

In Rosemary Wilton's Bouncing three middle-aged Hampstead bourgeoises dressed in pearls and ouvrier blue rehearse the tribulations of party-going after divorce. One of them places an ad in the New Statesman and meets a succession of unsuitable gentlemen outside the theatres of London.

Mick Mahoney's Up For None is a fresh, hard-edged and seriously foul-mouthed comedy of Oxford Street manners. David Cardy as a wide-boy watch salesman, Perry Fenwick as his violent, moralistic teenage rick, Chrissie Cotterill as a brass called Brass, Brian Bovell as a Trinidadian constable and Daniel Webb as a coke-snorting hoodlum — all are superb, and despite the script's forced ending and sometimes impenetrable argot, this is the gem of the evening.

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