The Park Theatre, Play written by Dylan Costello and Directed by Matthew Gold
Review by Daen Palma Huse
Photography by Krisztian Sipos
Set against the backdrop of a 1940s Hollywood movie studio surroundings and the main character’s bedroom some forty years later, the relatively plain lighting and somewhat simple stage design makes the viewer feel ever so close to the play’s characters. Evoking sensuality and familiarity, we are guided through a romanticised and possibly one-sided view of a bygone era of Hollywood. That said, the play does not primarily aim at offering food for thought in a political or dramatic sense, but rather sensibly tells a very personal story of love and affection, guilt and secrecy, passion and desire as well as intrigue, scandal and manipulation.
The story is told through the main character, Patrick Glass, who comes to Hollywood as a young British actor. He seems innocent and not quite familiar with the business reality of the biggest film industry in the 1940s. Slowly but surely getting more familiar he is falling for his fellow star Jackson (who, played by Alexander Hulme, exudes the air of a film star of the time in style, enunciation and gesture).
Young starlet Candice, who offers a helping hand in guiding Patrick through the business at first, tries to trade the information of Pat and Jackson’s secret love affair for greater stardom by committing to a deal with Nella Newman, who in turn lets Candice fall flat and causes her downfall.
Nella Newman is the antagonist playing a cutthroat journalist from the so fittingly named newspaper The Inquisitor. She embodies the media and press looming over the made-up stars of Hollywood. Her character, played by Mary Steward, stands out as a particularly strong character in the play as well as a main actress in the cast.
Throughout the scope of the play, a sign in the background of the stage continually changed from Hollywood to Hollywoodland and symbolized the jump in time of about forty years between Patrick’s film career as young actor and his older self. A second dimension of the play is added by a young Eastern German girl called Ava who comes to the US to commit to an arranged marriage with Patrick’s son George. In the meantime she is takes care of a considerably older (and grumpier) Pat who eventually builds a closer relationship with Ava, whose grim past is revealed gradually. She finally arranges for Pat to meet again with his long lost love Jackson – but the two shall never meet again.
The actors managed to draw us in with their performances, and the play by Dylan Costello is well thought-out, written and researched. Certainly the play has a lot of potential and stands out in its subject matter and coherent storyline.
Visit www.parktheatre.co.uk for more information on upcoming plays.