Paradise Lost

Vicki McKellar
Tapestry Theatre Company
Leicester Square Theatre
(2010)

Paradise Lost publicity image

This look at marital happiness and attitudes to conjugal unfaithfulness involves a married couple with a baby, an unmarried pair who have just discovered they have a baby on the way, a widow and single Suzie who says she's never had a real affair. In a musical opening we saw most of them in turn as they start their day rushing against the clock to get out of the house in the morning. I got the impression that they were all sharing the same apartment, but no, they are four separate households, something not easy to establish when working in such a relatively small space as this studio theatre.

The marrieds aren't exactly happy bunnies. Husband Martin (Myles Brown) has had a fling elsewhere and wife Debbie (Nadia Ostacchini) is never going to let him forget it. He's contrite but three moths since he dumped the girl she hasn't even begun to forgive him.

Six years together, the other pair have got stuck in a routine. Steve (Lloyd Morris) still dotes on Debbie's sister Shirley (Vicki McKellar) but she's on automatic. She has everything ready for Steve as he panic-dashes off to work, even standing waiting for the usual last minute rush back from the door to give her a goodbye kiss but when he's gone, she is off too, to lesbian Suzie (Abi Titmuss) who would like her to leave her bloke.

Shirley's other sister, widow Katherine, still mourns an ideal husband. She can't imagine him ever being unfaithful and wants to get in touch with him on the other side so they all get together for a session with Suzie's Ouija board. If you have ever used an Ouija board you will know how easily secrets slip out, perhaps because people want them to, and of course that happens here.

This one-acter runs for well under an hour. Director Simone Vause keeps it swift moving and light, there are more laughs than angst, but we learn little about these people that is not essential to the plot. Characterisation is in the playing rather than the writing, except for the rather one dimensional, unforgiving Debbie. More than just a review sketch but nevertheless structured as building to a tag line, this is an enjoyable piece but it feels like a first act waiting to be to be developed further.

Run ends 23rd October 2010

Reviewer: Howard Loxton