The warning signs were all there – I just momentarily failed to heed them. An amateur production of a little-known play by a major playwright. “Why is it so little-known?” I might have asked myself. “What kind of amateur group?” might have followed close behind.
The answers do not make pleasant reading, I’m afraid. Tom Stoppard’s 1976 satire, “Dirty Linen”, is little-known because it’s (whisper it) not very good. And the Rep Theatre Company was founded “to offer new and challenging opportunities to young people interested in theatre”, for which
read “We are not especially interested in casting people appropriately.”
Result: a tediously dated, wafer-thin comedy performed by an almost uniformly un-credible cast. And all of this in a venue that felt as if it was being fanned by the fires of hell.
Stoppard, of course, must shoulder his share of the blame. While
“Dirty Linen” is sexist and banal, “New-Found-Land” is simply utterly,
incredibly, devoid of drama. The poor young actor delivering it (Sarah Parker)
achieved a great feat of memory, but what was the point? She might have been
reading the phone book, for all the impact it made.
It says in the programme that “Dirty Linen” was “written as a lunchtime piece to celebrate the British naturalisation of Ed Berman, an expatriate American who founded Inter-Action, a
charitable trust aiming to stimulate community involvement in the arts”. Well, all I can say after that is let’s hope Sir Tom doesn’t leave his shopping list lying about or no doubt we’ll be seeing that up here sometime soon.