The Four Seasons

Arnold Wesker
Version Theatre
Arcola Theatre

Publicity photo

A carousel of confined emotions and very limited thoughts moves artificially through the four seasons.

There are two protagonists, a male and a female. Each went through a failed marriage though the female has also experienced a long love affair that came to an abrupt end.

The couple arrives at a new home in the country, detached from the outside world. As Adam (Richard Darbourne) drags Beatrice (Juliet Crawford) into the living room, she is sullen and wrapped up herself, just like an angry child, not speaking, waiting to be appeased.

Although it is not clear why Beatrice allowed herself to be dragged by Adam to the new house in the midst of winter, Darbourne and Crawford manage to engage one's interest in anticipation of what is to follow.

Beatrice observes silence and looks morose in a variety of ways, while her companion pleads for a sign of warmth from her, declaring that every part of him is aching to give her love. He speaks of the 'tested pleasures of love' and pleads with her to believe him. Eventually, she thaws to him, and the transition from sulkiness to tender affection is miraculous, just like the transition from winter to spring. The period of mutual love is artificially constructed to embrace a dinner; but this abruptly ends, to be replaced by the couple painting the room white, as Adam's dream is that they 'would build a white Temple' for him to worship her.

The four seasons are meant to reflect the couple's relationship. Nature provides an artificial framework for their doomed co-existence.

Adam enlightens us with some insight into his childhood to explain the emotional engine that made him what he is. He tells Beatrice of his betrayal of his childhood sweetheart at the age of 12. The guilt that followed moulded his subsequent relationships and contributed to the failed marriage and crumbling relationship that gradually unfold before our weary eyes.

The true depth of their emotional pains and concerns are not communicated to each other but are exposed in soliloquies. When they do declare their feelings to each other, despite an attempted at passionate delivery by the actors, the words remain wooden and dated.

The casting by the director James Copp is lacking. Darbourne and Crawford are good actors. They are young and beautiful and may be more suited for Romeo and Juliet than for the roles of Adam and Beatrice. The life experience exposed by our protagonists requires years of experience, years of maturity to add the convincing touch.

The set is impressively designed by Ben Ashton and Richard Howell. The multi purpose flat stage is pulled up four or five times in the course of the play, exposing an exquisite compact room with all the essential facilities.

The music and sound accompanying the production contribute to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the play itself is flawed and like an unripe apple, it is hard to swallow.

Reviewer: Rivka Jacobson

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