Tag Archives: Patrick Walshe McBride

“Almost, Maine” at the Park Theatre

Widely performed in its native United States, John Cariani’s Almost, Maine has received its first UK production at Park Theatre. A series of scenes, with different couples facing the exigencies and ecstasies of love, it’s about ordinary people in a small American town facing up to romantic problems. The potential for sentimentality is notable, so director Simon Evans uses his talented cast to make the proceedings clear rather than cute.

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Ian Keir Attard and Patrick Walshe McBride

The little stories might be divided into two types. There are those that deal with recognisable situations: an awkward meeting between ex-partners the night before one of them marries, where Susan Stanley conveys her character’s nervous energy perfectly, or the courtship of a tomboyish girl, which gives Lucy Eaton a chance to shine. Then there are scenes with a more surreal edge. Melanie Heslop is wonderfully cookie as a woman who carries her broken heart around in a paper bag. Hamish Clark is splendid in a scene where his character’s long-term girlfriend brings all the love she gave him back – in mail sacks. Ian Keir Attard and Patrick Walshe McBride have a great moment playing friends who literally fall in love, incapable of standing upright, made acrobatic by the truth dawning upon them.

It might frustrate you that Almost, Maine is a collection of sketches. There are unifying factors – characters are mentioned in other stories, random kisses are common and the weather is always cold – but these feel contrived. Also, it’s a little difficult to place the show in time, which bothered me. And though its hardly Cariani’s fault his effort to inject ‘magical moments’ might remind you too much of a chocolate box. I preferred the more bizarre scenes but it’s safe to say there’s something quality here for everyone – what’s your favourite favourite?

Until 17 January 2015


“The Picture of John Gray” at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Oscar Wilde’s lover, John Gray was reportedly the inspiration for The Picture of Dorian Gray. In CJ Wilmann’s new play, the remarkable history of this poet and priest makes for a thought-provoking tale. The repercussions of Wilde’s life and crimes upon Gray and his wider circle are powerfully evoked, with the focus on Gray’s own story.

Wisely, Wilde himself never appears. The characters around him are interesting enough. The artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, living together in Chelsea, entertain Oscar’s new fling, Bosie, while consoling the discarded epigone Gray and introducing him to the real love of his life, Andre Raffalovich. Wilde’s doomed affair with Bosie provides a third compelling love story.

It’s no easy task to recreate how these 19th-century aesthetes spoke. But Wilmann clearly immersed himself in the period and manages to produce convincing dialogue, while adding a wry humour and necessary modern touches that aid clarity. There’s a 21st-century sensibility that’s occasionally clunky, in particular the Charles’ relationship feels too contemporary, but Wilmann juggles our own perspective on these fin de siècle characters with what life might really have been like for them.

Gus Miller’s skillful direction produces a gallery of strong performances. Tom Cox probably has the hardest job as Bosie, but he tackles the role forcefully and does well. The two Charles are played by Oliver Allan and Jordan McCurrach, who make a convincing, sympathetic couple.

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Christopher Tester

In the lead roles, there are two great performances. Christopher Tester tackles of the part of Raffalovich, the sophisticated French critic, with great assurance, providing the play’s most moving moments. In the title role, Patrick Walshe McBride adds some stunning touches, doing justice to Wilmann’s clever text – a scene in which he nervously reads one of his poems to a high-powered audience is superb. He does justice to Wimann’s work and makes this a portrait worth going to see.

Until 30 August 2014


Photos by Miriam Mahony

Written 20 August 2014 for The London Magazine