Thursday 19th July to Saturday 21st July and Tuesday 24th July to Saturday 28th July
Directed by Pete Woodward
Upwardly mobile, but insecure, Henry and his less needy wife invite the confident and self satisfied Hubert and Inez Finidori to dinner hoping to improve Henry's chances of advancement. The Finidoris, however, arrive 24 hours early.
As in life, there is always more than one possible outcome.
Yasmina Reza's scalpel sharp script and ear for the ridiculous make this play hugely comic whilst tinged with darkness.
"Yasmina Reza's new play is an elegant enigma...as an intellectual construct, the play is fascinating." The Guardian
"Minimally, millennially chic...LIFE X 3 is swift, sharply phrased, poised and awash with uncertainty." The Observer
"An extraordinary play...the writing is brisk, brittle, funny and lethally accurate." The Sunday Times
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Manager||Sharon Morris|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Jenny Jones|
|Lighting Design||Thomas Hall|
|Lighting Operation||Julie Wood|
|Sound Operation||Paul Millington|
|Set Design||Pete Woodward|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
Some years ago, The Bench put on "Art", a play by a writer whose work was, at that time, new to us. Yasmina Reza's play was already highly successful, enjoying long runs in the West End with a variety of "big name actors".
Robin Hall directed The Bench's production in July 2006 and I was lucky enough to be part of it along with Peter Corrigan and Tim Taylor. During the rehearsals and the run of "Art" my admiration for Reza's writing steadily grew, so when the opportunity arose for me to direct "Life X 3" I grabbed it with both hands.
It seems to me that small-scale, intimate and close-up productions always suit our venue, when the connection between performers and audience is close and tangible. Of course, to achieve this you need high-quality acting, and we have that in Mark, Robin, Jeff and Megan, so a special thanks to them.
I hope you enjoy the show as much as I have helping to bring it to you.
The minimalist white set that greets the audience put me instantly in mind of Art, Yasmin Reza's earlier, better known work that the Bench staged in 2006.
Like Art, Life x 3 marries high brow concepts with accessible characters.
The premise is simple - we are treated to three versions of the same evening between two couples. Sonia and her husband Henry, about to publish important research, and Inez and Hubert Finidori, the latter being an influential astrophysicist. The interloper in each case is Arnaud, Henry and Sonia's six year old son. His presence, offstage yet constant, is the pin Reza uses to prick her characters' inflated intellectualism.
It is difficult to give a fig about what the couples talk about, but Reza knows this and uses Arnaud to remind us that, rather than star-gazing, there are real and immediate things around us far more worthy of our attention. Like children and relationships.
But this is not a heavy piece.
The rhythms of the play are managed deftly by director Peter Woodward and the barbed wit is delivered with aplomb by a slick, assured cast.
Astrophysicist Henry and his wife invite his superior colleague Henry Findoris and his wife to dinner, hoping to increase Henry's chances of promotion. However, the Findoris arrive 24 hours earlier than expected. Each act was a repetition of a set of events given a different emphasis and interpretation, bringing vividly to life a fascinating insight into human interactive relationships where a slight alteration in thought or deed results in very different outcomes.
First-rate direction created visually impressive pictures where the actors' physicality and position on stage mirrored the status of each couple between themselves and against each other, as well as making the most of the many planned pauses requested by the playwright.
It is impossible to pick out individual performances with all four on-stage actors (and one off-stage vocalist!) creating significantly different characters in each act, enhanced with the subtle, complex nuances of facial expressions and dialogue delivery.
Some years ago Bench Theatre put on another of Yasmina Reza's razor sharp plays "Art" and coincidentally their latest production has the former director playing the part of Sonia and the current director a former member of the cast!
Reza has a colourful multicultural artistic background, at first taking an interest in writing short stories she graduated to the theatre and then on to playwriting. Last year "Carnage" based on her "God of Carnage" was a highly successful screenplay starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslett. By her own admission she was an unhappy child, her spirit her only possession.
"Life x 3" although an intriguing concept, the shortcomings of the multi view structure, are in the limited script. Initially anxious overwrought astrophysicist Henry is trying to coax his procrastinating 6 year old to go to sleep. His wife Sonia, an ex lawyer, is already undressed and wearing a bathrobe, when the door bell goes. Hubert, Henry's far more successful colleague along with his wife Inez have arrived for dinner, 24 hours early! Sonia is immediately ordered to get dressed to receive their visitors for what has to be a culinary disaster. But for a stock of white wine, cheesy Wotsits and chocolate finger biscuits are the only offering! Henry's desperation to impress, Hubert's incessant asides to his wife and a fascination for Sonia are the ingredients for this snapshot of life in triplicate. Each act offering a fresh connotation on the basic storyline.
Director Peter Woodward has an interesting mix of characters in this quartet. Mark Wakeman, who never fails to impress, portrays the successful scientist who relishes in taunting not only his meddling wife but also the grovelling Henry, all the while making a play for the lethal Sonia. His great physical stage presence and infinite facial expressions, ensure great comic mileage. The role of Sonia is played to great effect by Robin Hall. Exasperated by her son's whining she brilliantly illustrates the unfolding emotions of irritation, flirtation and escalating annoyance. Hubert's long suffering wife Inez is taken on by Megan Green and Jeff Bone the apologetic demoralised Henry.
A thoroughly entertaining look at three of an infinite number of variations on a theme.