‘Colder than Here’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 10, 2013

Colder than Here’ was the 2005 début for the Bedford born playwright, Laura Wade’s published plays. Now in her mid-thirties, Wade was schooled in Derbyshire before studying theatre in Bristol. This black comedy was the joint winner of the 2005 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award and the joint winner of the Olivier Award Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

This presentation by the Melville Theatre Company is showing at the Melville Theatre, on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra, and the season runs until Saturday 14th September. This two hour play starts at 8.00 pm.

 

The stage is divided into two. One half is the sitting room of Myra and her husband; the other side of the stage are various settings in the countryside, depicted mainly by a series of projected slides on a white wall. The floor has grey and white dappling.

It is a pleasant afternoon and Myra (Sharon Menzies) and her daughter Jenna (Belle Toy) are wandering around parkland when Myra declares ‘This will be the spot!’ It is only at this point that Jenna, a spoilt young woman, realises that her cancer-ridden mother has coolly been looking for q spot to be buried. Being an intelligent girl, she has already started down the road of grieving. She has experienced the first of the seven stages, disbelief, fought denial and is now extremely angry at the fact her mother is about to leave her.

Myra is methodically arranging her departure and funeral. At home her husband, Alec (Phil Lord) seems to be more concerned about the home heating system. Myra’s second daughter, Harriet (Ruth Gillen) is helping to run the home and is, on the surface, taking the problem in her stride.

 

Experienced and well-respected director, Susan Lynch, has captured the theme of this black comedy very well. The actors gave extremely good performances, although the enunciation of some passages was a little difficult to hear. The lighting was OK, although a little unimaginative.

By the end of the play I felt as though I had watched an episode of MasterChef, where everyone put their heart and soul into the preparation, there was love in every bight, no more could have been expected, but in the end the dish served up was a disappointment with a flat ending. I think the problem was the initial ingredients. I am surprised that the play has won awards as I found the storyline had nothing new to offer. The younger member of the audience seemed to laugh more and enjoy the play more than the older members – perhaps we have been to too many funerals over the years.