Saturday, July 09, 2011

'Yes, awfully': For Services Rendered by Somerset Maugham at The Union Theatre

In my quest to find fringe theatres within half an hour of Lewisham, this was a real find. First a train to Waterloo East, then a walk to the other end of The Cut - a walk full of interest, too, passing The Old and Young Vic, popular pubs and lively pavement life.

A Latin American band played on the corner opposite the Old Vic.

The tiny theatre, with its scruffy cafe in front, is located near a railway bridge in Union Street. There's a licenced bar inside, but the cafe has a selection of cheap and cheerful baguettes and focacias, very welcome as we'd come straight from visiting the hospital at Camberwell.

The theatre interior was cosy - only about 50 seats, on three sides, but tiered, some comfortable cinema-style ones and some upholstered lecture-hall chairs. I just about managed the step up to seats in the second row to reach one of the cinema seats.I was glad of a companion to give me a hand down

I fancied seeing the play, too. I'm a fan of Somerset Maugham's short stories, although I'd only seen one of his plays before: The Circle at Greenwich Theatre a few years back, starring Googie Withers, an old screen favourite.

WS Maugham comes the same category as GB Shaw and JB Priestley - always reliable for a well-crafted play with a message.

I can't imagine the play much better done in the West End. The maid was slightly late on one cue - her part was a thankless task anyway - but it all added to the fun.

You can see my review on the Remotegoat website

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