Or Helen Keller 2: William Gibson's treatment of the relationship between Keller's teacher Anne Sullivan and John Macy, socialist agitator and literary factotum, is clever and sensitive, and gracefully avoids the twin pitfalls of didacticism and mawkishness. The constant presence and needs of Keller herself – physical, emotional and sensual – and even Macy's eventual alcoholic tailspin, are never allowed to pull the piece into excessive sentimentality.
A trio of finely-pitched and generous performances from Hildegarde Neil, Peter Dayson and Daryl Back (breathing a wealth of nuance into the silences of Keller as courtship and then discord swirl around her) capture the interdependence and frustrations of the arrangement; and through it all, Gibson's script glitters with miniature gems of expression. It's heartening to see mainstream production values so triumphantly vindicated, that intelligence and commerciality don't have to be mutually exclusive. And that sequels can still be worth attention.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
Return to index of reviews for the years 1989-90
Return to master reviews index
Return to main theatre page
Return to Shutters homepage