Frank Grimes does himself few favours in his first play to be staged. He plays his own surrogate, Stephen, an Irish emigré actor on holiday in Missouri with an old mate from the Auld Sod and two members of the latter's theatre company. Stephen's callowness and inability to keep his mouth shut are deliberately unflattering, but Grimes the author also sells Grimes the actor short in terms of antagonists. Chuck (a Vietnam veteran smug in his Americanness and pathological in its defence) is a straw man, never challenging audience sympathy for the freewheeling, garrulous Gael who has dared to declare his dislike of Willie Nelson. Jules, who praises his adopted land with the zeal of the convert, has more persuasive blarney at his disposal, but is revealed as a self-centred manipulator and an alcoholic to boot; he may ensnare the anodyne Pat, but Stephen proves too independent to enter his web.
Michael Pavelka's design skilfully blends the structural fabric of the Warehouse into the wooden cabin of the set, but Lindsay Anderson's direction is unexpectional. The real weakness, however, is the script, which poses as a fable of American jingoism but is little more than a reductive justification of the author's own behaviour in the past.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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