Sunday, December 4

A Single Man – Park Theatre

Tonight, I had the pleasure of experiencing a near perfect night at the theatre. People, place, performances – to steal a well-known phrase, everything was coming up Zoë and I could not have been happier about it.

Arriving at the brightly lit, inviting Park Theatre I was warmly greeted by the super-accommodating front of house, acquired a delightful glass of rose and found my seat. The stage is surrounded on three sides, and the front row of the audience’s knees are level with the stage. I’ve personally never been a fan of this set up, it’s always felt a bit too intimate somehow and if any of the action gets too close to you it’s a bit like being sat on the floor in a school assembly staring at teacher’s feet. Luckily, I was sucked into the action and after about 15 minutes any discomfort I’d felt dissipated and gave way to me clinging onto the casts’ every word.

I haven’t read the novel of the same name so I can’t speak to the extent to which the dialogue in Simon Reade’s adaptation is original or what is owed to author Christopher Isherwood, but I found the writing simply stunning. Sharp, witty, poignant, I found it almost alluring – the descriptions of grief so familiar that it felt like hearing a song that you’ve not heard for years. Trapped in a world of stoical pain, George is a man experiencing life as a series of simple actions and motions, unable to forget and motionless in time. He trudges through the supermarket, reflecting that outside of the shiny, suggestive consumer environment he will be left sitting alone with his purchases – the description of isolation so powerful it moved me to tears. Theo Fraser Steele’s portrayal is nothing short of superb – George feels so familiar he’s almost an old friend, his smart monologues building trust and empathy with the audience from the very beginning. Self-deprecating, honest, searing with pain but buoyant with a warm humour; Fraser Steele captures the essence of the character perfectly and it was an absolute joy to watch. His relationship with friend Charlie (Rachel Pickup – also superb) featured in some of my favourite scenes and for the first time in I don’t know how long made me fantasise about treading the boards again myself.

The set design is minimal but again feels familiar, quickly summing up a vision of George as a comfortable man with traditional taste, with subtle changes in lighting moving us through time and different venues. I was less of a fan of some of the audio effects – they felt unnecessary and distracting – but I did enjoy some of the musical touches. That would be my only complaint on what was, as I said, a near perfect evening. Even my fellow audience members were friendlier than your average London crowd and making some show-friends definitely added to the evening. While I obviously can’t guarantee you’ll get to sit next to lovely people, I can promise an excellent night at the theatre – do not hesitate, book and go see as soon as you can!

A Single Man is running at Park Theatre until 26th November,

Reviewer: Zoë Meeres

Reviewed: 21st October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★