Play by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Stephen Daldry. Performances: Evenings : MON-THURS 19.4, FRI-SAT 19.45,21.30. Matinees : NONE.
SEASON DATES : Opening: 18-JAN-01 Booking To: 3-MAR-01. Showing at the Albery Theatre, St Martins Lane, WC1. Box Office „
Billed as a chilling vision of the future, Caryl Churchill’s ‘Far Away’ is deeply flawed and extremely disappointing. This short (around 50 minutes) piece is based around three scenes, all set in some unspecified time and place in the future. It’s only in the first scene, which boasts some fine performances from Linda Basset (of East Is East fame), and an 11-year old girl (whose name I’ve forgotten), that you get an idea of what this might have become. In the dialogue between the adult and child a picture begins to emerge of something dark and bloody going on in the countryside. Nothing concrete is mentioned, so it’s left to the imagination to fill in the gaps, but the chilling atmosphere is extremely effective. However that scene ends, and just as you are wondering where it will lead the next scene opens. It has nothing to do with the first. In a sense your expectations are dashed – which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with inverting expectations, except that the atmosphere established in the first piece is dissipated. The climax to this scene is unexpected and quite frankly it doesn’t work. I won’t spoil it for anybody intending to watch this, but really Caryl Churchill seems desperate to provide a shocking image and it just doesn’t work. The final scene is laughable. Again Churchill appears to be trying hard and not succeeding. She tries hard to go for the Absurd, but her piece is sub-Beckkett and in the context of the rest of the play is down-right ridiculous. It starts off well but goes rapidly down-hill after the first scene. Some people had paid nearly £30 to see this, I was glad that I’d gone for the cheap option and only forked out a tenner. On the way out of the theatre I heard people apologising for not understanding what they’d just seen. I feel there was nothing to apologise for, this was incoherent and amateurish. I’m certain that if
this had been produced by somebody without Caryl Churchill’s reputation it would never have seen the light of day. As a sixth-form drama production this would have been good but not stunning, as a West End production by a known writer this is an abject failure.