The Window / Blank Pages*** (Hope Theatre)

Posted: October 2, 2015 in Theatre

THE-WINDOW-BLANK-PAGES-Show-Image1-e1437145928952This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

Frank Marcus shot to fame with his 1964 play The Killing of Sister George, soon to be revived on the London Fringe. Here his own granddaughter Rafaella Marcus directs two of his short plays, written later, and makes subtle suggestions of a link between them. The Window (1969) begins with Carol, the subject of the play that is to be performed later, sitting at the bedroom window of the blind and bedridden Robert (Daniel Simpson). She vanishes and Ken (Paul Adeyefa) arrives, summoned to be Robert’s eyes and to act as a Peeping Tom, reporting on the activities of a girl living opposite with whom he is obsessed. There are many obvious reminders of the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window, particularly as Rafaella Marcus’ taut production adopts the tone of an edgy thriller. The tension of the interplay between two enigmatic characters is well realised – Robert is ill-tempered and suffering from depression, having survived a suicide attempt; Ken is secretive, possibly gay and physical contact between the two frequently implies homoerotic undertones. However, there is a sense in which Robert’s blindness and Ken’s presence are no more than devices used to create a conversation in which observations about the girl opposite can be articulated. What seems to interest Frank Marcus, as indeed it interested Hitchcock, is how proximity and distance co-exist in the manner in which we all perceive strangers. The writer is exploring the chasm between what we believe (or want) people to be and what they really are. Blank Pages (1972) is a 30-minute monologue in which Carole (Megan Slater) goes through the diary that she gave up on at the age of nineteen-and-a-half. She came to see it as a “woeful chronicle of blunders” and decided that the pages would be better left blank. The very flimsy story concerns Carole’s affair with a Portuguese tennis coach, leading to disgrace in the eyes of her stuffy middle class mother. She is exiled to France, where she becomes an au pair, lusted after by her employer. Slater’s animated performance as the “not all that marvellous” Carole seems just enough to hold this play together, but then we remember the idea planted in our heads at the very beginning. Carole is the polar opposite of the girl talked of in The Window, but, it she could be her, does that not endorse the point that Frank Marcus was making in that play? Well acted and perfectly suited to the Hope’s small space, this is an intriguing pairing of two rarely-performed works.

Performance date: 1 October 2015


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