As the luxury-priced streets of London are gradually appropriated by the likes of Tesco Metro, it’s refreshing to find a gem of quirky individuality on a thoroughfare just off Piccadilly. The Jermyn Street Theatre once housed changing rooms for the staff of the Getti Restaurant (formerly the Spaghetti House).
In 1991, Howard Jameson had a vision to transform the space into an intimate studio theatre in the heart of the West End. The theatre opened in late 1994, thanks to a major donation from building firm, Laing – and further renovations were made in 1997, with the help of a National Lottery Grant from the Arts Council.
Prior to the first night of the theatre’s latest production - The Art of Concealment, a play about the life of Terence Rattigan - I met up with movers and shakers behind the show for a celebratory drink at Getti (see above).
Producer, Alexander Marshall, showed me his Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club tie.
And, as curiously cumbersome juggernauts manoeuvred awkwardly in the narrow street outside, writer Giles Cole told me about his new play.
Cole’s tribute to the legendary playwright is based on material gleaned during his editing work for Rattigan’s official biographer, Geoffrey Wansell. The plot cleverly weaves together episodes from Rattigan’s early (1920s and ‘30s) and later (1950s to ‘70s) life, to tell a story encompassing homosexuality, deception, torturous familial relationships, ageing, love and loss.
The casting is strong, with Judy Buxton and Graham Pountney impressively taking on double roles. Alistair Findlay makes a very convincing Older Terry, as does Charlie Holloway, as his lover - and Christopher Morgan as Cuthbert. But it’s Dominic Tighe, as the younger Terry, who steals the show, with a commanding swagger of narcissistic bravado that hides inner torment. Tighe’s sonorous voice is worth the visit alone, and his mastery of the play’s most poignant moments makes for a laudable performance.
An after-party, held at the Garrick Club, was a suitably splendid affair.
Inspired by the art of concealment, I whipped out my carefully hidden camera to take a few snaps of the grandiose surroundings and mind-blowing art collection for readers of the ShopCurious blog. I hope that’s not going to cause any embarrassment…
Curiculum Vitae Jeffry Zebua
6 months ago