Care, 1 Star

Courtyard Theatre
9th to 14th May

“The Angus Mackay Foundation is proud to present the revival of Care by Roy Mitchell (co-creator of New Tricks), originally presented at the Royal Court Upstairs, which has been revived with an ethnically diverse cast. 

A house in Birmingham has the constant glow of the TV, anthems of the 1970’s youth and a smell that lingers no matter how much the rooms are cleaned. Cheryl is anxious for the love which her illiterate, football watching, beer gurgling Terry is unable to give. Both manage to ignore the haunting cries coming from the cupboard whilst throwing in leftover food. The flat is feeling more enclosed than ever, but all they have hidden in the cupboard seems to finding itself into every corner of the house. Cheryl and Terry are willing to do anything to make the crying stop”.

Playwright: Roy Mitchell
Director: Emily Marshall
Lighting Design: Josh Oliver
Sound Design: Katherine Rose Oliver
Set Design: Isobel Power Smith

Karen Mann
Marc Benga
Jaana Tamra
Leo Shirley

Review by Richard Lambert, 1 Star

Sometimes there’s an “elephant in the room.” In this play, there’s a baby in the cupboard. The Press release says “Cheryl and Terry are willing to do anything to make the crying stop” – except this isn’t what happens in the play. The low level crying is largely ignored by the actors. Marc Benga has a headache which we can presumably attribute to the baby crying. Other than that we see a couple bicker their way through Act 1 and then come back to reveal she’s now pregnant in Act 2 and it would be better if there wasn’t a baby in the cupboard. Like sweeping out a hamster cage, a black bin bag resolves the dilemma.

Thankfully, there’s a lovely set to admire! Isobel Power Smith has thoughtfully added a few set pieces here and there that indicate we’re in a run-down council estate-esque property, in the living room, with a kitchen “off” and a bedroom “off” and an actor stage entrance that’s the front door. Really nicely conceived.

It’s a brave producer who opens and invites the Press to the 1st opening show. And there are reasons why this is not generally a good idea or standard practice…..light switches are turned off but the lights are already in night look, lights are turned on and they come on later, record players turn off considerably in advance of the needle being lifted…….not unusual for a rehearsal but not what you’d expect to see on Press Night, especially when there are so few technical cues in the show anyway.

Unfortunately towards the front of the audience were friends of the production. Nothing is more distracting than having friends laugh out loud at script that is mildly amusing. A quiet chuckle from an audience can be stifled by well-meaning friends who guffaw. It makes the performance feel very drama school.

I’m sorry to say that this production doesn’t really have much to say, I didn’t see the point, and it wasn’t very well done.

(Photo Credit: The Angus Mackay Foundation)