Wednesday, 9 July 2014

'Daytona' Theatre Royal, Haymarket ****

 What an audacious moment this has been for the year old Park Theatre, who has now had its first West End transfer. The quaint theatre, in Finsbury Park, has presented the theatre world with such wondrous works, such as the revival of ‘Thark’ and new works. Oliver Cotton’s ‘Daytona’ clearly explains how revenge can cause horrific circumstances for an old man's life and the only solution to protect himself is to seek refuge with his older brother and wife, who he hasn't seen in over thirty years. The plays setting is in a Brooklyn apartment during 1986 and it features a semi-retired accountant, Joe and his wife, Elli, who are rehearsing and preparing to dance in the seniors’ Ballroom and Latin American dance competition. They are constantly arguing with one another as with many stereotypical old couples are become dismayed that a person missing from their lives returns and ruins the rest they desperately need to dance exceptionally. Billy, Joe's youngest brother is hiding from a media spilled investigation due to the fact he’s murdered his arch nemesis. Whilst on vacation, with his wife on Daytona beach, on the hot Florida coastline. Both Joe and Billy have previous grievances towards the recently deceased as the man in question is a person from that on one past. Cotton’s play also focuses on the previous affair that Billy and Elli had with each other, and that passion is still unresolved, which is evident when they are romantically kissing behind Joe’s back. It appears the revenge and betrayal are quite prominent themes exuding throughout the performance and leads you to think about who is the innocent party. Frankly no one is as Joe can become slightly volatile. Oliver Cotton’s narrative is remarkably charming as there is a constant flow of energy that is displayed through the brilliant dialogue. I'm pleased that the performance has little technical requirements and that the plot is at the forefront of priorities. The performances by the minute company of ‘Daytona’ were transcendent during the entire production. Harry Shearer is magnificent as accountant Joe, who strives for a discrete old life and without any unwanted disruptions. Maureen Lipman is glorious as Elli, who endeavours to support in Billy's quest even though Joe does not want her to. This role was made for Lipman as it’s her most impressive piece of acting. Cotton, the playwright himself is outstanding as the murderous Billy. His flamboyant Hawaiian flower shirt brings a light relief to a character that's full of dread. I thought that David Grindley’s direction was wonderful as he's been able to combine both humour and sorrow together with flair and elegance, in particular when Elli conveys to Billy the time when she tried to run to him so that they could be together. Ben Stone's design is superb here as the Brooklyn apartment has been able to work wonders on the Theatre Royal, Haymarket proscenium arch with such elegance and panache. The entire experience of ‘Daytona ‘was a pleasurable one and a must see.

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