Dear Brutus at Southwark Playhouse.
‘The fault Dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’
This is the premise of J.M Barrie’s play, Dear Brutus, playing at the Southwark playhouse 100 years after it first opened at Wydndham’s Theatre. The play tells of a collection of seemingly random people invited to an odd gentleman named Lob’s house over Midsummers eve. He lures them into a magical wood where they all get the second chance that they have been seeking. This second chance shows many that their true selves have much more to answer for than fate.
The concept of the play although simple is delivered imaginatively and with much food for thought. We see a number of people attempt their second chance in many different manners. Some are comical and others utterly moving. A particularly moving scene was between Will Dearth played by Miles Richardson and Margaret played by Venice Van Someren. Venice captured a childish innocence beautifully and between Venice and Miles they captured a meaningful father and daughter relationship that was never to be in the real world. I became particularly caught up in their story and it was Mr Dearth that I felt for the most when he returned to normality.
Mr and Mrs Coade played by James Woolley and Josie Kidd respectively also gave a warm fuzzy feeling to the audience and hope to many that sometimes true love trumps all. On the opposite end of the spectrum we meet philanderer John Purdie, played by Edward Sayer, his wife Mabel played by Bathsheba Piepe and his mistress Joanna played by Charlotte Brimble. This was the most obvious example of how someone doesn’t change and was a smart plot choice for this to be the first people to feature in the woods as it makes the pretence clear very swiftly.
Some of the plot twists were predictable, especially those focusing around John, Mabel and Edward but this is made up for by the beautiful and more lengthy scene between Will and Margaret.
The show is staged in the traverse and was directed very cleverly by Jonathan O’Boyle. I never felt as if I was missing anything due to the staging. The show switches between Lob’s House and the wood. The simple effect of petals falling transports the audience easily between the 2. There were also little touches such a numerous plants in the front room and the prints on the furniture were all focused around flora and fauna which helped give a cohesive feel to Dear Brutus.
Overall Dear Brutus gave my imagination a good tug for the evening and left me with plenty of food for thought.
Dear Brutus runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 30th December 2017.
To find out more about Dear Brutus and the Southwark Playhouse check out their website.