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New Era - Rattle of a Simple Man

13th to 22nd September 2001.

This is from the NWN.

Peeling back the layers

Rattle of a Simple Man by Charles Dyer: New Era Theatre Club, at Wash Common from 13th to 22nd September

We all hide our feelings. Most of us enhance the image we present to others, to make us seem better than we are. In Charles Dyer’s play, two ordinary people painfully cut away the facades to expose their vulnerabilities.

Percy is a middle-aged football supporter from Manchester, down in London after a match. He is picked up by Cyrenne, a posh young tart, and the action takes place in her basement flat. Percy is naïve and nice, and after some initial bluster he reveals that he lives with his mum and is still a virgin at 45. Cyrenne is well educated and well travelled, the daughter of a Brigadier, and part of the smart set. When Percy chickens out of having sex with Cyrenne, she is strangely reluctant for him to go. As the play progresses, and the empathy between the characters develops, they start to reveal the truth about themselves, and acknowledge their loneliness.

Susannah Mayer, as Cyrenne, and Tim Oldham, as Percy, gave strong performances that brought out the tenderness and humour of the characters. At first Cyrenne, as the tart with the heart of gold, seemed shallow and unbelievable but her mood-swings through anger to self-pity showed that the shallowness was a result of the façade of lies she was using to protect herself. This was a very well controlled and impressive performance from Susannah Mayer. Tim Oldham showed us some of the repressions and frustrations that had built up in Percy over many years, but he could have been a bit more wimpish. The two worked very well together, with good facial expressions, particularly from Susannah Mayer, and appropriate body language.

Tim Stanton played Cyrenne’s step-brother Ricky, and the two of them brought some highly-charged emotion to the middle of the play, as Cyrenne’s past was revealed.

The set, designed by Brian and Lisa Harrington, gave a convincing 1958 feel, including the naff Tretchikoff painting on the wall. The pace was good, and director Pam Hillier-Brook gave us an engrossing production, although Charles Dyer’s (possibly) happy ending seemed a weak and unsatisfactory ending to the play.