The personal and professional disintegration of a psychiatrist is not a particularly promising subject in the wake of Equus, but John P. Clive's first play illustrates that there is some mileage in it yet. It suffers sometimes from an excess of ambition, as Clive attempts to be comic and tragic at the same time; the progress of the collapsing relationships, too, occasionally seems arbitrary, as if it is simply time to move up a gear again. Within individual episodes, though, the writing is thoughtful and deft enough to gloss over these worries.
Terence Wilton's psychiatrist is a model of irritating composure, comforting and "healing" his stifled wife (Eileen Nicholas) almost to the point of oblivion. His outbursts are the more unsettling for being unsignalled, and Clive ends this promising debut with a disconcerting final twist.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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