“Performance” is the theme of the 2010 Pitlochry Festival Theatre season, letting the audience peak behind the curtain and watch plays-within-plays and the production process.
In Rough Crossing we get both, with Tom Stoppard spoofing not only the romantic musical comedy genre but also the very act of play writing.
We embark the S.S. Italian Castle, a Golden Age liner on her trans-Atlantic crossing, as playwrights Turai and Gal try to iron the wrinkles from their soon to be Broadway show. If only they can smooth out the middle – and perhaps find a better beginning and end. The situation is made worse when their fragile composer, Adam overhears leading man Ivor wooing his fiancé and leading lady Natasha. It’s going to be a rough crossing.
Attempting to pull it all together with doe-eyed innocence and occasional Jeeves-like resourcefulness is new steward, Dvornichek. He is soon embroiled in a plot to introduce a plot to explain that Ivor and Natasha were only rehearsing their own homespun end to the production.
As with any sea voyage, unless there entertainment on board it’s likely to be dull and here the work is neither farcical enough to be fun nor enchanting enough to be endearing. The lines are never as sharp as those of the lavish art deco set.
The cast do well with their parts and the thesp’s ham it up, struggling to keep their scripts straight while the odd-couple of David Delve (Turai) and David Alcock (Gal) become increasingly jaded. George Rae is in high spirits as Dvornichek but is left carrying a little too much as he staggers around with his tray of drinks. The actual play within the play, although intentionally ridiculous, becomes a little tiresome.
It’s an entertaining enough bit of froth, but had the play been written by anyone else it probably wouldn’t have made it back out of dry-dock.
Performances at Pitlochry Festival Theatre throughout the summer season until 16th October.