The Low Lights, North Shields
The Low Lights is a pub on the Fish Quay in North Shields at the mouth of the Tyne. It's very old—reputedly the oldest in the town—with small rooms and low ceilings. The room in which Company played is small, holding a maximum of 46 people, jammed together sitting in a semi-circle on an assortment of chairs leaving a tiny performance space. Those of us sitting in the front row had to tuck our legs under our chairs otherwise we would trip up the actors. Truly intimate theatre!
Which is appropriate for Dick Curran's one-act play because it is a domestic "darkish" comedy played out in real time. Ross's wife has left him so his work colleague Mike invites him for drinks with himself and his wife Dawn. There's an ulterior motive, of course, because Mike is looking for promotion (and to make his job safe) and Ross holds the key to that. We get the impression from what Mike says that Ross is a bit of a nerdish, slightly odd character but that is just the tip of the iceberg: what follows has much more far-reaching effects than Mike could ever have imagined.
In fact, Company is almost surreal in places—I was occasionally reminded of N F Simpson—in the sense that Curran has taken a fairly ordinary situation and extended it beyond what simple naturalism would allow whilst remaining essentially realistic
The cast of three (Steve Hawksby as Mike, Jill Dellow as Dawn and Dylan Edge Mortimer as Ross), under the direction of Peter Mortimer, play it straight—as they should—with even Ross's manic moments (and there are many) under tight control.
They also handle the intimacy of the venue very well. If they were intimidated by the closeness of the audience, it certainly didn't show and their performances were totally convincing so that, assisted by that intimacy, we really felt that we were in that room as it all unfolded before us.
The first half of the evening features a different local singer each night and the short run is completely sold out.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan