FREE
Old Red Lion, London ECI
Opened 14 May, 1991

The main evening show in the Old Red Lion's New Play Festival turns on a neat reversal of dreams of escape. Free, alias Marshall Gunther, is a kind of holy fool who happens to be prone to levitating even when he doesn't want to. After one motel room too many, he decides to give up the dinner-show circuit and become the motel's cleaner. He is plagued by a kooky and frustrated wife who demands that he teach her The Way, and finds that he becomes ineluctably dependent on his partner and manager.

Barbara Lindsay has hit upon a novel and surreal way of articulating the old canard that one man's meat is another's poison: Free struggles in vain to achieve the kind of mundanity which others take for granted, finally facing up to manager Stoney Madonna's assertion that even if he never leaves the ground again, he is "a floater". The play, however, never quite follows him into the air. Apart from Maureen Purkis's wickedly po-faced motel maid, the company shows no real spark. The result is an appealing idea which is never taken to the heights it could attain.

Written for The Independent.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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