This will be a short review, because it’s difficult to say much at all about it without either giving away too much or reducing an incredibly powerful conversation to a mere description.
It’s also impossible to write anything at all about The Sunset Limited without one spoiler. It’s not much of one, because it becomes clear within the opening lines, and is quickly confirmed, but if you don’t want even that much, stop here and just go see it …
It’s a classic one-act play with just two characters in one room: one of my favourite formats.
Two strangers meet when one of them tries to jump in front of a train and the other stops him. The entire play is the conversation between the two of them shortly afterwards in the apartment of the saviour.
It’s not a cheery topic for sure, though manages enough humour to dissuade the audience from deciding to follow the example of the professor.
Its greatest strength, I think, is that it’s not remotely one-sided. The would-be jumper gets to make his case every bit as persuasively as the saviour.
The dialogue is, as you’d expect from Cormac McCarthy, almost musical. At once poetic and yet very real. Both Gary Beadle and Jasper Britton deliver incredible performances. It was a preview, so there were occasional tiny stumbles, but the delivery from both did complete justice to the writing.
Beadle perhaps had a slight edge when it came to his portrayal of a more complex character, but this was matched by some of the best non-verbal acting I’ve ever seen by Britton. His facial expressions as he reacts to Beadle were a delight.
The theatre is lovely. I’m a big fan of small theatres, the Trafalgar Studio 2 being my favourite. The Boulevard is posher, as a brand new fit-out, but comes close to it for intimacy. The layout can apparently be flexibly adapted for different productions. For this one, the legroom in the front row is just slightly cramped, and the low rake means I’m not sure the second or third rows would be ideal, but the stage is high for such a small space, so I think every seat in the house will have a great view.
Ticket prices range from £12 to £36, so excellent value, and the bar and restaurant look great too. We’re already booked to see The Effect in March.