REVIEW: From sitcom to real tragedy

PUBLISHED: 14:07 10 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:35 07 September 2010

TREATS Lion and Unicorn Theatre 3 stars Ann and her boyfriend, Patrick, are sitting happily on the sofa listening to music when suddenly a man bursts in and punches Patrick on the nose. He is Ann s previous lover, Dave, a journalist who has been coverin

TREATS

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

3 stars

Ann and her boyfriend, Patrick, are sitting happily on the sofa listening to music when suddenly a man bursts in and punches Patrick on the nose.

He is Ann's previous lover, Dave, a journalist who has been covering a story in Iraq. She has taken this opportunity to get out of a destructive relationship - even giving away his dog to the local newsagent.

Dave refuses to leave even when Ann threatens to call the police. Dave is a control freak and seeing her with another man makes him determined to get her back at any price.

Testosterone fuelled, with no scruples whatever, he is used to getting what he wants by any method, using his charm and humour and bully boy tactics if all else fails. He tries to turn Ann against the rather passive Patrick calling him, "a bore of international reputation". His next ploy is to make friends with Patrick who feels understandably guilty about the situation and invites him to have dinner with the couple.

He turns up with alacrity despite Ann's desperate attempts to cancel.

Christopher Hampton's play is written very much in the style of 70s sitcoms and is charming and funny and one is lulled into a sense of security during the first hour.

Stephen Doolan as the ever helpful Patrick is especially reminiscent of a young Richard Briers with his constant smile and his impeccable comedy timing. Ann, too, in her desperation to be rid of her ex lover, is played lightly at first by Lucinda Westcar, an intelligent actress, perfectly cast in the role, as is the leather-jacketed Fergus Rees as Dave.

The wit and humour of his character eclipses the violence of his opening behaviour.

But when the play eventually takes a nasty turn, we are unnerved and realise at last that we are in the presence of a domestic tragedy. The acting and the direction is spot on and it is so well done throughout that it is sad to leave the theatre with a really unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Until November 16.

ALINE WAITES

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