Edward Alderton Theatre
by Tom Kempinski
Directed by Jean Sharp
10-17 May 2003 (7 performances)
BEST MALE ACTOR - ANDY GODFREY
BEST FEMALE ACTOR - GAYNOR FISHER
An unlikely relationship forms between an agoraphobic playwright and a disabled actress via a series of transatlantic phone calls...
Cast Joe Green Andy Godfrey Sarah Wise Gaynor Fisher
Crew Stage Manager Stephen Sharp Assistant Stage Manager Roz Betts Technical Design & Rigging Bernard Tilley Lighting Operation Peter Sharp Sound Operation Bradley Ambridge
With thanks to Mick Wright, Ron and Maureen Hardwen, Allison Henderson and Christine and Jerry McKeon for their support. And the late Geoffrey Clifton-Green for his inspiration.
What the actress said to the writer
The production of Tom Kempinski's Separation at the Edward Alderton Theatre in Bexleyheath features superb acting from Gaynor Fisher as a young American actress who is dying from a wasting disease that began to take its toll when she was thirteen. Having achieved partial remission, she has built a good career in the theatre and, at the age of 20, decides to get into contact with a British playwright to talk about a part in a new play.
Kempinski's play is said to be semi-autobiographical, although I suspect its agoraphobic, unwashed, volatile, fat, badly dressed and bad-tempered playwright with writer's block has had his shortcomings enhanced to give the work more impact. Nevertheless, Kempinski seems to be fascinated with the problems faced by gifted women with disabilities. Duet for One, about the tragic life of the great cellist Jacqueline Du Prč, is typical of his output.
While Separation shows how two very different people can come together by sharing their experience over the telephone, in this case via a transatlantic link, the bond they forge is tenuous in the extreme. The actress is bright, intelligent, enthusiastic, and has a great regard for the playwright, who is played by Andy Godfrey. But if this play has a real problem it is that with Gaynor Fisher bringing such extraordinary talent to her role, when the pair finally meet it is difficult to believe the actress concerned would find any common ground with someone who is little more than a slob with some hidden talent. Andy Godfrey takes his role almost too literally and, when his chin falls on his chest, his dialogue becomes almost impossible to hear. But the play offers real drama with both actors setting the stage alight with their outbursts, and there even (a few few) times when the characters become almost believable.
An excellent set reflects the different attitudes to life by the two characters, and Jean Sharp's direction has pace and invention, but the sound should have received more attention. However, the use of the haunting theme from the film Enigma superbly interlaces the changes in scene.
Kentish Times | 15 May 2003