Studying in Bath, I am extremely lucking to be able to access brilliant theatre, with companies such as the Natural Theatre Company, and several very good theatres including the Theatre Royal Bath. This theatre programs some very good work, both created by the theatre, such a Bad Jew now enjoying a sold out run at the St. James theatre in London, and touring show like the one I saw this evening, Dear Lupin.
I was not aware of the book this play was based on before I went to the theatre; and I must admit to not conducting the same amount of research I normally do, seriously once you have seen a production of Medea without knowing what it’s about you do your research. Luckily the program had some very interesting interviews, and the play its self was very clear around characters, themes, and narrative, meaning that you never felt like you were left in the dark by the play, and could fully enter the world of the play.
The play is continually being described as humorous in reviews, and that is the only way you can. Although don’t be deceived this is not a play of gag after gag, but rather a depiction of life punctuated by well observed, well-crafted comic moments.
From the moment the play starts you are aware that you are not watching a tragedy, with Jack Fox as Lupin quizzing his farther Roger (James Fox) about himself, Master Mind style. This helps both to establish the central character Roger, whose letters the play is based around, and also helps to establish the play as a comical look at the relationship between a farther and son. From that moment I knew that I was going to enjoy this play, and it is punctuated by other similarly wonderfully comical moments, such as Roger and Lupin enjoying a meal of Gym shoes, as a description of Lupin’s mothers cooking, a criticism that continues throughout the play much to the enjoyment of the audience.
In the first act partially Jack Fox deftly dances across the stage sprinting from comic moment to comic moment of Lupin’s life. Throughout this James Fox as Roger provides a foil to the antics of Lupin moving with a slow grace across the stage, and providing a comical commentary of his son’s often exasperating behaviour. James Fox also provide a whole cast of characters that Lupin encounters through his life, two that stand out most are an aged prostitute, and a very well observed Montgomery, both of which were very funny.
As the play progresses thorough the life of Lupin and his farther, and they encounter the problems of ageing, and the effects of a hedonistic life style, the external characters lesser as the play focuses down on the relation between father and son. It is here that Jack Fox displays his skill as an actor, as he moves from the cheeking chappie of Lupin’s youth, to an older character, weighed down by, and confronting the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, a diagnoses of HIV, and an ageing and ailing farther. Although this does not sound very comical, the stoicism with which the characters confronts this is still comical, partially Rogers regular quips about illness and death. It is also this act which reflects a universal experience of a parent’s death, Lupin’s speech comparing the death of a loved one to a race horse is an especially brilliant piece of writing
Although this play starts quite slowly, it picks up pace very quickly as the audience is drawn in the very personal lives of farther and son through the letter is Roger. These letters provide a very strong backbone to the narrative of the play, as well as an effective way of providing a comical, very personal link to the characters.
Overall this is a very good play, with a brilliantly funny and clever adaptation by Michel Simkins, writer of What’s My Motivation a very humorous depiction of the life of an actor. The acting was also superb, bringing to life with great sensitivity and hummer these two wonderful characters. There is so much more I could say about how wonderful this play is, but all I will say is if you get a chance, do go and see it.