Brighton Fringe 2009
A painfully well observed comedy that takes an honest and funny look at the struggles of love.
October Revolutions is billed as an un-romantic love story and tells the on-off, push-pull relationship of a 30 year old playwright and a 20 year old music student.
The play proceeds in three acts each about a year apart: the initial attraction, two people discovering their common ground and sharing their passions, justifying their connection despite their conflicting feelings; the second act, the frustration of love pulling in different directions, passion undamned and reckless promises; the third act, the bitter sweet pill of love frustrated and the impossibility of letting go of that connection forged in love.
The staging is simple, a bench and a patch of grass become the scented garden in Queen’s Park, a field somewhere near Lewes and the Blue Peter Italian sunken garden.
Laura Corbett’s young student is a convincing blend of the enthusiastic optimism and changability of youth with the intense seriousness of an old-soul searching for meaning. Lloyd Thomas as the old before his time writer is bombastic, alternately repressed and impassionated, frustrated and flawed.
With such a simple story and no fancy theatrical devices to distract this is a play that succeeds on its witty script, on believable characters and snappy dialogue. Brian Mitchell’s writing delivers plenty to laugh at and what struck me most about this play was how painfully well observed it is and how honest.
That honesty doesn’t always endear us to the characters. Stuck in the middle of the countryside on a warm night on his birthday with the woman he loves all our writer can think of is getting the last train home. Doesn’t he grasp the romance, the potential of the moment!! Its only jealousy and pride that spark his anger enough to act out of his passion.
There are plenty of “recognition” moments in this play- moments when I winced and thought. Oh that’s just what it’s like being in love and that’s just the stupid crazy ways in which we behave. The final act has a superb moment where the writer realises that his attempts to sever all connection with her, to be free of the pain are doomed to failure and he accepts the inevitability of their continued friendship with a cry of exasperation.
I struggled to rate this play because it spoke so directly to my own experience. That both made me appreciate it more as a powerful piece of theatre but also it made me like it less because it was a bit painful and there were things I really didn’t feel like laughing about!
I took a quick poll of the audience to help me decide. This was a solid well put together performance competently acted and well appreciated by the audience and for that it gets three stars and my recommendation that you should check out this play.
The reason it doesn’t get four stars is because I think this play still has to work out it’s style. Laura Corbett is brilliant at a naturalistic, very subtle style of performance, she can really draw us into what she is feeling in the moment where as Lloyd Thomas thrives more when he is expressive and theatrical. The two don’t always connect.
Are we watching an old style BBC2 "Play of the Day" where we watch the action as detached observers or a more consciously dramatic and aware of itself comedy serial- such as “The Good Life” where we know the actors know we are there and that awareness draws us into the conspiracy.
I’m not sure which style is being aimed at and sometimes this frustrates my connection with the characters and their connection with each other. Sometimes the pacing and the arc of dynamic tension between the characters doesn’t quite feel right, so while we appreciate the moment to moment of the dialogue somehow the journey each of the characters is on is less clear.
I suspect there is still more passion and laughter to be found in this thought provoking play.