Wednesday, October 19, 2022

'witty, touching memories of youthful love' Jermyn Street Theatre, The Times ★★★☆☆

 PG sent the WhatsApp group a photo from the play's press night yesterday. I have also noticed that they text is published tomorrow (

There's a review in The Times this morning here. It is online but behind a paywall. I will copy and paste the text below.

Something in the Air review — witty, touching memories of youthful love

Jermyn Street Theatre, SW1

Donald Hutera

Wednesday October 19 2022, 12.01am, The Times


Leading roles for mature actors in new plays tend to spotlight those who occupy the starriest, most bankable realms of the profession. And understandably so, given that such casting is a crucial part of any big West End venue’s box-office strategy. The Fringe, on the other hand, has more leeway. For his slim yet literate and touching new memory play, now at the intimate Jermyn Street in central London, the veteran writer Peter Gill has come up with not one but two older central characters.

Alex (Christopher Godwin) and Colin (Ian Gelder) are septuagenarians living in a care home. In Gill’s largely sedentary staging of the work, co-directed by Alice Hamilton, the pair literally never leave each other’s side — both men occupy identical, institution-style wingback chairs at centre stage, and stay put throughout the entire 65 minutes of the play.

The script tips its structural hand at the start. Colin, mentally sharper and temperamentally milder than Alex, briefly comforts the latter before they nod off. Alex then suddenly yet subtly becomes more alert, slipping effortlessly into the first of many longish interior monologues. Colin has them too. Loaded with vivid, scene-setting physical detail and era-specific cultural references, these individual reveries don’t occur in real time. They are, instead, parallel recollections centred on two separate young men that Colin and Alex once loved in their youth, long before they met.

Gill’s play is not just a two-hander, but a cross-generational ensemble piece — modest yet sophisticated, rather than sentimental, and sometimes acerbically witty. The young men (played by James Schofield and Sam Thorpe-Spinks) conjured by the respective memories Alex and Colin materialise either side of the stage; as talking ghosts from the past, they serve their purpose. There are also two present-day visitors: Alex’s moody, homophobic son (Andrew Woodall) and Colin’s understanding niece (Claire Price, warmly sympathetic without being saintly).

The chamber-style musical structure of Gill’s writing keeps contrivance at bay. What arises from all the talk — past and present — may not be theatrical dynamite, but I suspect that it was never meant to be. Gill seems to be after something more delicate and personal, laced with ambiguity and longing — even though past tense.

The production also benefits from being pinned to the very deft and dovetailing interpretations of Alex and Colin by Godwin and Gelder. Together with Gill, they’re shining a light on experiences, feelings and desires embedded in queer history, while underlining the value of companionship of any kind.

Ends Nov 12.

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