Daytona*** (Watford Palace Theatre, 9 September 2013)

Posted: September 9, 2013 in Theatre

After a successful debut run at the Park Theatre, actor Oliver Cotton’s play is now touring and could well have the legs to take it to the West End. Dancing lightly around serious issues without ever tackling them head on or becoming too heavy, it has a formula that often produces commercial successes. Set in 1986 in the New York apartment of Elli (Maureen Lipman) and Joe (Harry Shearer), an elderly Jewish married couple, it starts in Neil Simon territory; however, with the arrival of Joe’s brother Billy (John Bowe), events take a dark turn and the spectre of the past looms; it transpires that the trio had been held in a German concentration camp and the play asks the question whether it is better to leave past events behind or to confront them. The switches of mood between comedy and drama are handled deftly and the performances are excellent. In both halves the play labours at times due to overlong speeches which, although beautifully written, sound more like descriptive extracts from a novel than dialogue in a play. Overall, not particularly profound, but, as an evening of undemanding entertainment, it passes the test.

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