ENIGMA
King's Head Theatre, London N1 (lunchtime)/Rose Theatre, London SW3
Opened 3 March, 1992

Heroism and treachery are both roles allotted by chance that's the burden of Ian McAuley's three-hander, in which a Polish war veteran swaps torture tales with a graveyard caretaker while the latter's student-temp assistant squirms with uncomprehending discomfort.

Syd Golder's direction is often heavy, and is horrendously aggravated by Richard Cunningham's overwrought, gurning performance as student Peter. "I'm 18, you know," he protests, but comes over more like a heavily-bullied nine-year-old and attending prep-school rather than Middlesex Poly. There's thus no real hook on which to hang Peter's epiphany-cum-rite-of-passage at the climax of the play. The discussion between the two older men, too, fails to engage on the emotional level; like Peter, we fail to empathise with the weight of the past upon each of them, but unlike him we carry on not understanding.

It's a bit like looking at a jigsaw where pieces have been impatiently hammered into place, with bits of foliage in mid-sky. A pity.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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