Bed and Breakfast
Time warped theatre-by-the-sea
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).