Fast-talking 1930s drawing room satire with a twist
This article is from 2010.
Like the spirit of Oscar Wilde (all barbed wit and intricate language) filtered through a dark Lovecraftian sensibility, Imperial Fizz adds an extra ingredient to a classic recipe to delicious effect.
Sophie Fletcher directs American Brian Parks’ seemingly light-hearted marital comedy in which a constantly sozzled couple bicker their way through glass after glass of alcoholic concoctions. Issy van Randwyck and David Calvitto deserve an endurance medal for getting their mouths around such lightning fast feats of verbal dexterity, every line hewn from the vastness of the English language with a scalpel’s precision.
Yet this glossy facade, which on its own is rich enough to comprise a whole (but very different) play is the lacquered screen that disguises the real truth. There are inklings that things are not quite right: a shabbiness to the costumes, intrusive static on the wireless. Where at first the couple seem comfortable with their pattern of jibes and jests an element of fear creeps in, jocularity falters and anxious, angry attacks replace playful rehearsed debates. As we learn of an upcoming event the couple expects with trepidation the tone slides from frothy to sinister. The dialogue that once skipped along seems to be trying to outrun their fate, to force comfort with the repetition of the familiar (and a few stiff drinks).
It’s a heady experience, a runaway train of words where to drop attention for a line is to miss much. For all the tension, the act of watching is immensely enjoyable rather than fraught. Any social commentary about class or sexual politics is there if you squint, but entertainment is the overriding flavour. Like a well-made cocktail, the constituent elements are indiscernible and the overall effect on the palate delightful.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 24), 5.25pm, £12–£13 (£10–£11).