MOUTH TO MOUTH
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court, London SW1
Opened 6 February, 2001

Kevin Elyot's play is a bit of a curate's egg, but always worth watching and never less than intriguing.

This 85-minute piece is beautifully structured. Its timeline pivots around a central point, so that we see first the aftermath of the principal event, then move back to the event itself, then forward again to the same subsequent locations where matters acquire a new and deeper perspective. It contains a brace of beautiful performances by Lindsay Duncan as a possessive mother and Adam Godley as a coked-up bitch-queen of a doctor. Its tragicomic blend is handled with rare delicacy; it is never mentioned that central character Frank is gradually succumbing to AIDS, but we are discreetly briefed on the matter.

Against this, it is irritating that Frank is a frustrated playwright and therefore a possible author-surrogate, and that the unnattainable object of his affections is so deliberately made just that sliver below the age of consent. As Frank, Michael Maloney has lost many of the acting mannerisms that have so irritated me over the years many, but not all. A supernatural element flies in, unexplained and unreferred-to, and flies out again. This is a play of many fascinating parts, but they do not quite fuse into a coherent whole.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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