WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Harold Pinter Theatre
WHEN: 24/2, runs to 27/5
It’s 2am and the wife of a university lecturer has invited a younger couple back to their home for some after party drinks.
- Read on for reasons including why Staunton is the West End’s biggest talent
So starts this 1962 Edward Albee play about middle-aged marriage as Martha (Imelda Staunton) and George (Conleth Hill, unrecognisable from his Game Of Thrones role for which he is currently best known) taunt and tease each other, ever more viciously, in front of the younger Nick and Honey (Luke Treadaway and Imogen Poots).
We last saw Staunton in her Olivier-winning turn as Mama in Gypsy and Martha, her part here, is a similarly grotesque character. What’s different, of course, is there’s no singing here and Staunton is no less commanding in a completely straight role.
We say straight but there’s much comedy to be had despite the devastating consequences being wrought here for all involved.
This was only a third preview before a 9/3 opening night and, if we’ve one criticism, it is that the third act seemed a little laboured. At three hours and 20 minutes, it’s a long evening and, despite two intervals, the twist (of which we will say no more) seemed a little long in the telling.
It’s a minor criticism and this is an explosive evening thanks to its fine four-strong cast (easy to forget, perhaps, that Hill is an Olivier Award winner for acting himself) which underlines Staunton’s versatility and lends weight to the argument that she’s currently the West End’s biggest talent.