HERE at Greenwich Theatre
There was a lot of audience laughter during Michael Frayn’s philosophical comedy Here at Greenwich Theatre. It wasn’t the gales of laughter provoked by the playwright’s great farces such as Noises Off. Instead it was that most satisfying of all outpourings – the laughter of recognition, especially the recognition of embarrassment. Frayn’s rarely-staged 1993 play is an intense examination of what it means to live in the here and now by way of human relationships, retrospection, gender politics, psychology and quantum theory. It’s an amazing mix of erudition and humour. But it also requires top-class acting because otherwise the bickering couple at the play’s core, Cath and Phil, could be irritating whingers and their nostaligia-obsessed landlady Pat would be little more than a cliché of bitterness. Happily Serin Ibrahim and David Hubball as the lovers and Kerry Joy Stewart were superb in director James Haddrell’s production, giving the play an emotional depth and honesty that made for great theatre. And there were lots of wonderful little touches to keep the here-and-now theme in our thoughts – an ever-growing spider plant, a print of Dali’s melting clocks adorning the wall and, best of all, the final fade-out leaving only an alarm clock spotlighted on stage. Frayn, who once lived in Blackheath and had been a member of the Greenwich Theatre board, had taken part in a Q&A session before the opening night in which he revealed his affection for what is one of his lesser-known works. And after watching this production, he told the cast it was the best version of it he had ever seen. Who am I to disagree?