Friday, 18 March 2016

the young visiters

On Saturday 12th March Maisie and I went to the 4pm matinee of The Young Visiters at The Tabard Theatre, which we both enjoyed.

My first time there, and I'd certainly go back: a theatre above a pub in Turnham Green (access up a nice external staircase rather than through the pub, though there are no toilets in the theatre), literally a couple of minutes around the corner from Turnham Green tube station (and an Oxfam bookshop a couple of minutes in the other direction from the station, which we whiled away some time in), which is a straightforward journey along the District line. A nice set of raked theatre seats with the stage on the floor level of the door you came in at (and the door is between the front seats and the stage, so it's one of those 'no admission if you're late' places).

It was a production by Rough Haired Pointer, a company I haven't seen before, and a revival of their own production, which was obviously well-received previously, of an adaptation of Daisy Ashford's novel (a romantic story written by a Victorian 9-year-old which became a humour classic when unearthed and published) by Mary Franklin.

Although, as ever, some of the cast (of six, plus a credited child who spells out Daisy's spellings of some words on a recording for a while before the play starts) seemed familiar, from the bios in the programme I don't think I'd ever seen any of them before (unusually, from recent fringe experience, I only subsequently found one of them on twitter).

And, as usual on the fringe, the performances ranged from good to very good, and the production as a whole was very good. I think it is the kind of play which is it necessary to play without archness or adult knowningness to make a success of it - to present the view of the world presented as if it were straightforwardly accurate, and trust/allow the two levels of humour within it to work; that is, the humour inherent in the writing and also the humour derived from the contrast between the world as the play presents it and our knowledge of what the world is really like. They did it very successfully, in particular the three central characters; there was an interesting contrast, I thought, in that trio between Ethel (Marianne Chase) who seemed a very childlike adult, and Mr Salteena (Jake Curran) and Bernard (Geordie Wright), who seemed more like a child's simple and serious conception of an adult (I haven't expressed that very well), which may or may not be related to the fact that it was written by a little girl.

Although it has the quality of performance to be in a bigger venue, it's the kind of production which lends itself to a small theatre, with imaginative use of what staging and props there are; it would lose some of its charm in a bigger venue. But, six people on stage and 20-30 in the Saturday matinee audience - as so often, they deserve a bigger audience, and you wonder how anyone - theatre, company, individual - makes a living on the fringe.

Some reviews. Everything Theatre. The Upcoming. Grumpy Gay Critic. LondonTheatre1. My Theatre Mates (which leads to full review at Carn's Theatre Passion). The Theatre Tourist. All pretty positive. (Oh, and here's the poster on Instagram.)