Review by Gordon Brigg:
Over The past few years, the standard of production at the Phoenix Theatre has reached a very high level, and the latest delightful play did nothing to dispel that situation.
Director, Renee Field, and Assistant Director, Tom Lee-Hynes, have used their combined efforts to good effect in All Things Considered by Ben Brown, and the audience were treated to an intriguing and amusing evening.
The theme of suicide may have caused alarm bells to ring. There are some very profound observations on our mortality. But it is all dealt with in the clever, witty dialogue of the author, whose dry humour won the day and no one need have worried, things are not allowed to become too heavy.
David, a professor of philosophy who is suffering from a bout of world weariness, is set to finish it all. He is the centre of everything and his attempts are unintentionally thwarted by a succession of visitors to his study, each of whom have their own agenda.
Bob, the electrician, who comes to rewire the premises. Laura the rather earnest charming American who is to deliver a paper on kidney donation. Tom, the university chaplain, provides the religious input which fires up David’s atheism. Ronnie, the college ‘ram’ whose emotional illiteracy lands him in a mess from which he hopes David will extract him. Joanna, a pushy ex-student who now writes for the Guardian and has come to interview David about his ex-wife’s autobiography. Finally, Margaret, the sad librarian who has had a brief fling with David and undergoes a ‘near miss’ pregnancy of which she informs David.
David’s relationship with all of these provide the fascination of the plot, and there are some very humorous moments.
The cyclical nature of the play is revealed when, despite one attempt at suicide from which he returns from hospital, David eventually quite unintentionally achieves his wish as he is electrocuted by Bob’s efforts to rewire things.
Howard Owen, as the electrician shows his experience as a character actor. Ronnie, the randy lecturer, is played by Phil Field, who is a fine actor of farce. Michelle Cooper as Laura, the American academic, shows her versatility and adaptability to great effect.
In playing Tom, the chaplain, Gareth Wigg achieves the right balance between sincerity and comedy. Joanna, the assertive journalist, is played by Lizzie Nicholson, who showed good contrast of mood. Margaret the librarian (I shall never have children) was played sensitively by Lucy Davies.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Robin Haig as David. “He doesn’t have to try does he?” said a fellow audience member. It was his seemingly effortless playing of this demanding role which persuaded me that this was Robin’s finest performance to date.
Well done team. Great set, appropriate costumes, good effects – they nearly fused the lights.