Bed and Breakfast (2 stars)

Time warped theatre-by-the-sea

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Bed and Breakfast

Oh, the very Englishness of a seaside B&B. The musty quilted headboard, the individual sachets of Nescafe, the trouser press, the damp. It lingers around this rather limp two-hander developed through the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme like the smell of grease from the traditional morning fry up. We’re eavesdropping on the last moments of a small, listless love affair: John, who is vaguely ‘from London’, is leaving B&B landlady Gwen, with whom he has struck up one of those ‘special arrangements’ beloved of 1970s sex comedies. There’s a painful underlying desperation to these characters, but they’re never fully realised, their two-dimensionality obvious in every gesture to an existence outwith the guest house.

With its needlessly fiddly set design – lots of doors to be moved around and table leafs to be pulled out between scenes – and carefully-enunciated performances, Bed and Breakfast most strongly recalls parochial rep theatre, another very English tradition. It’s curiously dated for a piece of work by an emergent writer, stuck perpetually in that sad little vacuum by the sea.

Underbelly, 0870 745 3083, until Sun 26 Aug (not 13), 2.50pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).

Bed and Breakfast

  • 2 stars

Rather limp two-hander developed through the Royal Court Young Writers' Programme. Held back by needlessly fiddly set design and two dimensional characters, this curiously dated piece of work is stuck perpetually in that sad little vacuum by the sea. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'.

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