Thursday, 21 January 2010

Review: The Priory, Royal Court, 5 January 2010


It's nice when theatre surprises you like this.

I was regarding my assitance to a performance of The Priory at the Royal Court as something of a chore. On one hand, it was unavoidable, because Joseph Millson was in it and I always make a point of not missing any of his performances (even if that means travelling great lengths). On the other hand if it weren't for Mr.Millson's involvement in it The Priory is the kind of play I would normally avoid on a first glance: it sounded like a silly comedy and it had Rupert Penry-Jones in the cast.

So in the end I decided to get some standing tickets with really REALLY restricted view for the price of 10 pence.

And to my surprise, well, it was a pretty funny play. The setting is familiar (a group of friends decide to spend New Year's together in a country house and a series of complications and misunderstandings follow) and the situations and characters clich├ęd but it had a solid cast (even mediocre Penry-Jones was quite decent and not as annoying as usual) and it got genuine laughs from me, more to do with the actors' delivery than with the wit of the writing but still. A good way to spend a morning.

And of course amidst all this sitcom-esque, familiar but effective hilariousness it was Joseph Millson who stole the show as he often does (like Andrew Scott he is the kind of actor who should not be allowed to interact with other humans, because he puts the rest to shame) in a role that could have been easily disgraceful: Daniel, the gay friend this kind of farce usually has, would have been a cardboard of a character but Millson gives him unusual depth. Kudos to Charlotte Riley as well, playing energetic and irritating Laura, a stranger come into this circle of friends. And Jessica Hynes, whose character is the heart and spine of the play, she is sympathetic but sharp. It is her onstage chemistry with Millson that results in the best moments of the play, it is when these two characters connect that this entertaining but innocuous comedy achieves moments of actual and honest theatre magic. I was not expecting that.

It was nice to be proven wrong.

Other reviews:
The Guardian.
The Independent.
The Times.
musicOMH.
The Stage.
Sans Taste.
West End Whingers.

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