THEATRE REVIEW: Gallowglass at the New Brighton Floral Pavilion

Gallowglass at the New Brighton Floral Pavilion 2018


The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

February 13 – February 17, 2018

Author: Ruth Rendell as Barbara Vine

Director: Michael Lunney

Producers: Middle Ground Theatre Company

Cast: Dean Smith, Joe Eyre, Richard Walsh, Paul Opacic, Matthew Wellman, Florence Cady, Eva Sayer, Karen Drury, Rachael Hart, Jog Maher.

Running Time: 2 hrs 40 mins

RATING: ****

 Can’t beat a well written, well-acted crime drama on a cold Tuesday evening and Ruth Rendell certainly ticks the former box, while the star-studded cast of Middle Ground’s Gallowglass, which is at The New Brighton Floral Pavilion until Saturday, takes care of the latter.

 When Little Joe is saved from suicide by the mysterious Sandor, little does he know just how much his life will change. As for Nina Abbott, the one-time pinup of the perfume world – who has outlived of two wealthy husbands to date – and her chauffeur Paul Garnett, the return of her one-time kidnapper is set to throw turmoil into their own burgeoning relationship.

 The beauty of Rendell’s work – here writing as the much darker toned Barbara Vine – is that no stone is left unturned in bringing the maximum of tension. There are side plots and undertones to enjoy aplenty, as well as some beautifully delivered comic moments to act as breakers to allow the audience to breathe.

 Top of the shop for eccentricity has to go to Karen Drury. The once ill-fated femme fatale of Brookside Close provides a fabulous performance as the slightly sozzled mother of Sandor and hits all the right notes effortlessly. It’s just a pity she isn’t on stage more.

 Superb too as Little Joe is Dean Smith. A tough role to play, Joe’s vulnerability and naive charm really brightens the play as whole. Joe Eyre’s deeply disturbing Sandor comes across as somewhat Pinter-esque disturbed at times. If ever a man has been born to play Mick in The Caretaker, Eyre is that man and is a delight to watch from first to last. No mean feat when considering just how much stage time this relative newcomer is afforded and how much weight his performance carries.

 As Paul and Nina, Paul Opacic and Florence Cady respectively are excellent, although it would have been nice to have seen a little more of Garnett’s backstory to fully enjoy his depth of character. Impressive too in her first touring production is Eva Sayer as Jessica, Paul’s daughter, who’s overall loveliness is never overwhelming and still manages to come across as 11 years of age with style.

 Richard Walsh as the wealthy Ralph Apsoland and Matthew Wellman as his servant/aide Colombo may have limited stage time but both use it well in delivering what are important if brief performances.

 Yet without question, it is Rachael Hart’s feisty, lecherous, smutty, potty-mouthed Tilley takes the biggest plaudits. Brim full of energy and guile, hers is a performance to savour in not only its fun and frolics but also its nasty deviousness.

 Gallowglass is an Irish term for a mercenary servant of a chief. With this production, the late Baroness Ruth Rendell’s work has been more than well served and her legacy as Chief of Crime is left well preserved indeed.

Click HERE for Tickets

Read the interview with Richard Walsh HERE

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