Soho Theatre + Writers' Centre, London W1
Opened 15 February, 2002

**** Imagined account of a meeting between two remarkable people

Kenneth Tynan and Louise Brooks were both legends. Janet Munsil's version of their interviews is thoughtful and entertaining.

Tynan was the greatest theatrical critic of the 20th century, Brooks one of cinema's most enduring icons for her performances in G.W. Pabst's two "Lulu" films. In 1978, Tynan interviewed the then 72-year-old Brooks at her home in upstate New York for a New Yorker magazine profile. He died shortly afterwards; she hung on till 1985. Both were heavy smokers with emphysema.

Munsil's play, like most theatrical dialogues between historical figures, is on the "writerly" side, but is far from arid, as both Brooks and Tynan reveal the emotional sides of their personalities. There is a third character on stage: a version of the young Lulu, who alternately goads and deflates Tynan in his private fantasies.

Thelma Barlow is solid and direct as Brooks, though with that tendency of English actors essaying American accents to insert extra "r"s, so that she speaks of Tynan's stage revue as Oh! Calcutter. Sophie Millett's Lulu is both endearing and accomplished, as she cavorts onstage in almost perfect sync with excerpts from the Pabst films projected behind her. Peter Eyre is amazingly accurate as Tynan, right down to the way he holds his cigarettes.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

Return to index of reviews for the year 2002

Return to master reviews index

Return to main theatre page

Return to Shutters homepage