Lie of the Land
Two go mad in the countryside
This article is from 2008.
Him and Her move to the country on her family’s money. Mostly. He contributed, though. He’s not as rich as her, rather lacks her breeding. But he’s kind, and she is trying to civilise him. The important thing is, it’s their house. All theirs. Away from the city, its terrorism, its rat race. Their large house by the sea.
This sharp little two-hander by award-winning playwright Torben Betts is semi-autobiographical, based on Betts and his wife’s efforts to leave London and live off the land. Perhaps this explains the disparity in the relationship at its centre. Neal Barry’s tender-hearted cockney Him, throwing himself into digging potatoes, plays to the audience’s sympathies, while Nia Gwynne’s shrill Her is never allowed to evolve beyond comedy Sloane archetype. Anything noble in their intentions to escape ‘the system’ is undermined from the start by their Thatcherite obsession with property ownership.
There’s some beautiful wordplay here, but like the stupendously mismatched couple at its centre, the play never looks much beyond its own London-y navel. With characters played so blatantly for laughs, when the pressures of isolated co-dependency deteriorate, inevitably, into mental strain, it’s difficult to take them seriously.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 12.30pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7–£8).