Compare and contrast with Water Music (see separate review): Paul Prescott's sentimental tragicomedy is also set in a seaside resort in the early '60s, and also concerns a love doomed never to succeed. Here, though, it's the love of Jack for Les, his partner in a dire comic double-act playing the end of the pier in off-season. (Jack is, of course, the straight-man onstage.)
Prescott uses the shoestring intimacy of this supper theatre in Battersea with mastery: the audience in this tiny space becomes the pitiful house watching Jack & Les's (marvellously) mouldy routines die twice nightly. Most importantly, he knows his territory: A Distant Applause doesn't pretend to be more than a smile-and-perhaps-a-tear diversion (probably after a meal in the forward part of the premises), and by setting modest, realistic targets he succeeds proportionately far more than Lyndon Morgans and Soho Theatre Company. La Bonne CrÍpe's shows won't change the world, but they do shine in the already-glittering showscape of SW11, and they can number this reviewer among their fans.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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