Caught up with Vix on Friday night. She's been on Prick Up Your Ears which has come into town after a summer regional touring. Simon Bent's new stage adaptation of the biography of Joe Orton's last years is still being fine tuned, but even a week away from opening at The Comedy Theatre, there's not much wrong with it. Vix has been working for Peter Mumford the lighting designer, which meant we were able to sneak into the closed off circle, so she could take some pictures of the different states. It gave us a very exclusive view
In many ways it's the ideal West End play, well cast, tightly directed and about the relationship between theatrical success and failure. Layered with a tantalising sense of swinging sixties London just a twitch beyond the curtains of the cramped flat in Noel Road that Joe shared with Kenneth Halliwell. The opportunity to watch in close up detail a symbiotic celebrity relationship is a voyeur's dream.
Matt Lucas plays Halliwell and after a tentative beginning really began to hit his stride in the second act, when he allowed the demons to be released. For Matt it's a casting to try and shift perception of him as a brilliant sketch show comedian and prove that he can sensitively inhabit a role. If anything his efforts are more compromised by the inevitable audience sense of him as a personality rather than his own ability - ironically Halliwell longed for exactly the kind of public acclaim that for Matt, post-Little Britain, has become a little personal. The reality is, whatever parallels you want to hint at, he plays the role well and as long as he keeps his nerve and self-belief he'll get the good notices that I suspect he needs.
The support from Chris New and Gwen Taylor as Orton and Mrs Corden, the lovers' innuendo ridden landlady is spot on. The play doesn't really reveal anything new to us or leave us enlightened as to why Orton stayed with Halliwell - the fatal flaws are in place from the word go - but it does offer that essential component of biography, a view of our heroes in the bloody tragedy of their private lives.
On Saturday I had a surprise visit from Carol, who'd been up in Derbyshire trying to negotiate a Spiral project with Junction Arts. Unfortunately for them it had fallen through, which fortunately for me meant she had a few days to come and visit and allow me to repay a little of the hospitality I received in Spain a couple of weeks ago. We meant to do some work on the Cantabria project, but in the end went roaming around Richmond Park, Petersham Nurseries, Eel Pie Island and back down to Teddington lock. It's wonderful that Summer seems reluctant to disappear quite yet.