Twilight Song, Park Theatre, review: ‘Kevin Elyot’s dialogue is foot-stompingly funny, economical and cuttingly brutal’

PUBLISHED: 17:49 24 July 2017

Byrony Hannah in Twilight Song. Picture: Robert Workman

Byrony Hannah in Twilight Song. Picture: Robert Workman

© Robert Workman

A warm but disturbing story of a dysfunctional family over half a century of social and legal change – a homage to the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act.

Mid-fifties Barry lives in the house in which he was born. While his mother is away on unfinished business he’s invited estate agent Skinner over for a valuation.

It’s dark, rainy and oppressive but Skinner’s ready wit and salesman’s patter casts a ray of sunshine into the decaying property. They chat, swap life stories – the worldly Skinner, whisked off to Australia as a baby, “Dad drunk himself to death”, abused by the Christian Brothers; Barry, credulous, buttoned up, “I’m not the hair letting down type”, lonely. Barry opens up “You’re surprisingly sensitive...for an estate agent.”

Skinner (deftly played by Adam Garcia) is a part-time, equal opportunities gigolo and Barry becomes a cash customer.

This is the first of many surprises in this warm but disturbing story of a dysfunctional family over half a century of social and legal change – a homage to the passing of the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act.

You’d think decriminalising homosexuality would be a relief to Uncle Harry and family friend Charles played with an intimidating loucheness by the excellent Philip Bretherton and Hugh Ross. But their shared shadow world seems too ingrained to be easily abandoned.

Switching between decades, we first meet twentysomething Isabella (Bryony Hannah) as she and husband Basil (an understated Paul Higgins), invite Harry and Charles over for pre-restaurant drinks.

All are dressed to the nines; Isabella is all innocence and optimism, carried away with the idea of marrying a doctor and pregnant with future son Barry (also played by Higgins).

The final scene is horrible and sad. Kevin Elyot’s dialogue is foot-stompingly funny, economical and cuttingly brutal. The motif of a house decaying with its occupants isn’t stretched, however several scenes grate and belief is not suspended. Shocking admissions should come singly and not in seamless, unchallenged pairs.

This is a valediction for My Night With Reg playwright Elyot who died in 2014. He would have enjoyed Monday evening.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Yesterday, 23:39

Unai Emery romped home in a three-horse race among prime candidates Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has revealed after unveiling the club’s new head coach.

Yesterday, 22:59

New Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has been in bullish form on his first day in the job after chief executive Ivan Gazidis unveiled the 46-year-old Spaniard on Wednesday – insisting the North London giants can catch Manchester City next season.

Yesterday, 17:00

North London and South Hampstead will do battle this weekend in Division Three while Division Two outfit Hornsey visit Wycombe House

Yesterday, 16:00

Spaniard has been chosen to replace legendary Frenchman at the helm of the Premier League club

Yesterday, 15:00

The N8 club failed to defend a total of 332 against their local rivals last weekend, but will aim to bounce back on Saturday against Finchley

The 24-year-old Londoner discussed the importance of believing and highlighted the success of other not fancied teams in the past

Yesterday, 13:00

Batsman opened against Essex, but came in at number three against Kent

Yesterday, 11:00

The Shepherd’s Cot club chased down 333 against their local rivals at the weekend to win for the first time since promotion to the top flight

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now