Neil Labute
Bush Theatre

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Neil Labute is so prolific and has been around for so long, that regular viewers have expectations. This 75 minute solo show takes far longer than usual to get there but the anticipated little secret turns out to be the theatrical equivalent of a nuclear depth charge.

Following yet more structural struggles, for this solo the Bush has become the model of a well-appointed funeral parlour, with a tasteful photo of the deceased overlooking her casket, thanks to the efforts of designer Lucy Osborne.

Spooks star Robert Glenister plays the grieving widower Edward Carr, who takes time out from funeral duties to eulogise. He is a Midwesterner who measures his moment of freedom from sympathetic friends and family in the cigarettes that have condemned him to a death sentence.

Under Josie Rourke's direction, the actor's naturalism is perfect, as he relates the tale of a love of exceptional depth. His beloved Mary-Jo might have been fifteen years older but from the moment that he prised her away from her bullying first husband and Edward's boss, life was a dream.

The couple set up a car-hire business that made them rich and throughout over thirty years and four daughters, their union was idyllic.

For over an hour, the bereft husband tells a story that is rarely extraordinary but all the more touching for that. Just when you begin to wonder whether Labute might have turned over a new leaf, the death-bed secret is mentioned and soon afterwards brought to terrible life.

Robert Glenister gets just the right balance of a widower's suffering with his profound admiration for the woman who became his raison d'être, building nicely to the Labute shock.

Wrecks is yet another fine example of the intricate detail and explosive finales that have made this playwright so popular and should be seen as another coup for Miss Rourke and a theatre that so often punches far above its weight.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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