Richard Parish | 28 Oct 2016 21:49pm
For many years Peggy Smith was a well regarded secretary with a London publishing company. She was adept at taking dictation but Miss Smith was also her own word-smith. She was to become better known as Stevie Smith, poet.
Smith arguably joined the pantheon of public acclaim with ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ – a poem which reflects her recurring themes of fear and death.
The routine nature of her life is the subject of Hugh Whitemore’s script, ‘Stevie’ which some academics suggest could be poised to become a modern classic although his play details the humdrum nature of Stevie’s life; fleeting boyfriends, neglected geraniums, sweet sherry and evenings spent with Aunt Madge.
It doesn’t make for a dynamic experience.
It does make for a reflective one with the opportunity to identify the landscaping of the creative mind.
For the Lighted Fools Theatre Company the director Richard Parish takes us on a journey of simplicity and directness.
This play is only occasionally seen but over the years I have identified some productions spicing-up the humdrum with a bit of ‘artificial drama.’ In my judgement it can taint the mood of stoic introspection. Parish avoids this.
Karen Brooks in the title role successfully creates a character that examines and questions; she cares little for fashion but a lot for feeling and achieves this in a plain pinafore dress with ankle socks: wide eyed and sometimes motionless, her shoulders droop as her arms tighten around her. The impact is complete – isolated but aware.
Hugh Whitemore punctuates his script with Smith’s poems; Brook’s brittle voice delivery softens with the verse as though entering a safer world.
David Hemsley-Brown plays several men in Stevie’s life – no mention is made of her lesbian relationships – in three brief appearances, each was contrasted and assured while Aunt Madge, Stevie’s brave lion aunt, is the anchor of the Palmer’s Green home.
Marie Thurbon offered an effective portrayal of an elderly woman, progressively unsteady on her feet.
In a later moment, as food dribbles down her chin, there was recognition from the audience as to the truth and belief she created.
The setting showed attention to detail and period; lace curtaining, knick-knack heaven, and an upright piano in pride-of-place.
Whitemore’s play is an acquired taste. It lacks flamboyance but for anyone willing to focus it demonstrates much about the human condition.
- : user
- : 21/10/2016