Brighton Fringe 2018
Waiting for Curry arrives for the Brighton Fringe having featured in the 2017 Hove Grown Festival. again it’s at Sweet Dukeobox, via CAM Productions and Twilight Theatre. Susanne Crosby writes, directs, lights, designs and acts in the show too which lasts round fifty-five minutes. Andy Crosby co-directs and provides all technical support.
Susanne Crosby’s Waiting for Curry – a title suggested by friends as they indeed waited for a takeaway – arrives for the Brighton Fringe thirteen months after its initial version featured in 2017’s Hove Grown Festival. It’s still at Sweet Dukebox, via CAM Productions and Twilight Theatre. Crosby directs, lights and designs the show too which lasts round fifty-five minutes.
Alex Crosby co-directs, providing technical support – partly as Crosby herself this time plays the prickly Chris. There’s an added depth to this new version, and some very funny awkwardness. And a smash hit for several reasons.
Two couples uncorking the wine waiting for a takeaway – the clue’s in the title. Progressively the vino veritas un-ballasted by food leads to revelations, hidden couplings and reveals as the night blunders into truth. Was this someone’s plan?
Crosby’s uptight coping but emotionally inarticulate accountant Chris hosts not only Sue and Phil, more her husband Rob’s friends than hers, but it seems her husband too. They’re no longer quite a team after eight years. Rob, like Sue perhaps, is more materially focused, though as we see Sue’s chiming in sympathy more than anything else. Though his championing capitalist supply and demand when confronted with prostitutes as an example is a more icky moment than his companions ever expected.
As idealist Chris finds more kin in dull dependable Phil, the care home manager, you do wonder if the couples are indeed ill-assorted and might be better off paring differently by the end of the evening. But it’s a more complex play, even if indeed it hinges on rekindled attraction between Sue and Rob, and the reasons Rob honourably withdrew so many years back. For Sue he’s the one. For Rob, it’s not so certain. Matt Grief – the one survivor from the original cast – deftly layers a far more complex role than his initial gruff materialism lets on.
Crosby’s particular achievement lies in characterising four distinct individuals whose motivations – revealed in four monologues as the others freeze – show none of them shallow but awkward and less articulate when interacting. Rob in particular finds it difficult to navigate his drunk exterior to the point of sobriety, yet as he says after a crisis, he’s momentarily stone cold and lucidly defends himself.
At other moments he pours wine for himself, Sue and wholly misses seeing Phi’s outstretched glass; all you need to know. Another literally delicious moment after the curry fails to arrive is Phil quietly taking one, hesitantly another, then pretending he’s not taking another mouthful of crisp, retracting his hand. There’s quite a bit of this theatrical
We’re exposed to Chris’s anxieties first, Crosby herself superbly conveying an insecure, prickly not entirely sympathetic character. Then the old flames Rob and Sue who worked in finance together. Whereas Sue’s straightforwardly still in love, Rob’s double loyalties mark his journey as more complex and intriguing. Grief’s excellent suggestiveness evokes sympathy for an initially unattractive character; he’s not at all what he seems. His reasons for withdrawing – delicacy and loyalty – suddenly form a consummating clinch with Sue. Years back he acted wholly honourably; she was with someone else, quite miserably so. They came together on a coffee table. But she broke up the next day and he never realised. Ever after there’s been a mis-timing sequence that ended with Chris. Alex Louise manages to convey the plangent disappointed sexiness, and directness of Sue by subsuming palpable desires in a rational exterior. They explode. Literally too. On the night I went the crisp bowl knocked to the floor shattered. It rather added to the occasion.
Alex Bond’s Phil pulls the patsy part, and Crosby’s coup is to make him more omniscient than his appearance suggests. Phil’s very reasonableness and decency makes him the unenvied patsy who somehow caught Sue on the rebound. But it’s painfully clear whom she loves. Phil’s the one no-one has ever fallen for. Bond plays him as someone playing the stoic long game.
There’s a social reckoning, a denouement, and a very unexpected plot point. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from someone who knows what percentages can do. This version has a new emotional depth and residual wisdom with some fine lines – especially when Rob somehow blames Chris for his actions.
Grief’s baffled and compromised decency’s a thing that has you revolving the truth of it after you’ve left. Is he being truthful? Is he deluding himself in his protestations? We want to know. The cast’s uniformly convincing – Bond’s perfect subfusc, Crosby does hurt crossness and your heart goes out to Louise. But Grief’s layerings and self-contradictions as Rob perhaps carry the palm.
In its unassuming clarity it hooks universal feelings into a moment. It’s an excellent play and cast needing wider circulation; the audience again was packed. There’s a quietly sad magic to this low-key play; people recognize themselves in it. It speaks.