Not yet available - the monkey isn't booked for this until March 2015.
Meanwhile, it's split professional reviewers. All note the spectacular staging,
and parrot. Most praise Patsy Ferran as Jim, but a few wish they'd stuck to
traditional casting, for no actual reason. Arthur Darvill fares less well as
Long John Silver - upstaged by the parrot, apparently and too nice. The plot too
is a little too book and not enough stage, particularly in the first half.
Still, it's well enough done and one for the 12+ brigade already familiar with
the book, seems to be the verdict.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Seen at the afternoon performance on 22nd
November 2014): This is basically "EasternEnders" or "CurryNation Street." A
slice of life among the economically disadvantaged, played out for the
delectation of a (the afternoon the monkey saw it) 99% white, elderly,
middle-class British audience. Also created and produced by a team of notably
white and British people. Which seemed a bit odd, but perhaps explains why the
play lacked much of a sense of place in many ways.
While the work is proof that poverty is universal, the same characters could be
South American, Caribbean, Eastern European - anywhere where corruption and
neglect produce a class unable to escape. The biggest issue in failing to anchor
the play in situ is the lack of mention of the "caste" system, passed over in
favour of religious division in this case. The monkey isn't sure why.
As a play, it's staged well. The cast - likable Hiran Abeysekera as Sunil
Sharma, battling mothers Meera Syal (Zehrunisa Husain) and Fatima Shaih (Thusitha
Jayasundera) and their families make it through the long set-up of act one to a
genuinely involving second half with a satisfying resolution - in fact, the
final scene is what the Olivier's stage is for.
As a construction, the constant soliloquies add to our knowledge of the
characters, and reflect the origins of the piece as a book of investigative
journalism... but given the lack of place and the obvious layered colours of the
personalities revealed, the monkey was left with a single opinion... replace the
soliloquies with songs and you have a near-perfect musical, "Fiddler on the
Dump," anyone? Seriously, it's worth a thought.
Meanwhile, for those willing to wait out act one, this is worth catching for the
payoff - as big as a whole sack of metal - that you get from the cast and
writing of act two.
Picture credit (above). A scene from Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Richard
Hubert Smith. Used by kind permission.