2 x Armchair Theatre – Thoughts

The Cupboard

A kitchen sink melodrama: a lodger on the downward spiral blackmails his landlady through cunning and overpowers her. When it seems he has bitten off more than he can chew, he somehow manages to maintain his composure. However, circumstances finally overpower him and he sucumbs to his madness.

  • Donald Pleasance is mighty in this as the lodger. It’s the sort of character he specialised in: a non-descript on a slow burning descent into madness. At first he doesn’t look beyond the end of his nose. He gradually realises that he doesn’t need to.
  • This play really is about madness. A man loses control of his wife and goes mad. He then in his turmoil faces further defeat, but steps outside of decency in fighting back.
  • The ending, with the sanitary workers is curious; a kind of moral obligation that the villain cannot get away with it

The Snag

Modernity versus the Victorian spirit: bluff business against decency and decorum. A developer needs to purchase a decrepit corset shop for his new project, but the old lady proprietress is holding out. So he sends his best executive to smooth things out…

  • This one is a very gentle farce. These days in 2016, where developers are less the heralds of modernity and PR executives are the first lord of the treasury, the fall guy would be something different, I suspect. The character of Crayshaw would be the one who underwent a redemptive experience and not the tar and feathers he ends up with.
  • The performances are all very well done (the seniors are competent and June Barry is almost the platonic ideal of a perky, smart blonde) but the script is rather dull and the production is cheap. And even if Crayshaw is a smug, insufferable berk, we can still emphasise with the poor chap at his fate more than the writer does.

 

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