Come into our parlour... say St Albans theatre group

Parlour Song

Parlour Song - Credit: Archant

Jez Butterworth’s darkly comic play, Parlour Song, which puts suburbia under intense scrutiny, is the next production from the Company of Ten In the Abbey Theatre Studio in St Albans.

Parlour Song

Parlour Song - Credit: Archant

Parlour Song was the fourth stage success for the local playwright who wrote the much-acclaimed Jerusalem, and it enjoyed a highly popular run at the Almeida in 2009.

Jez Butterworth was brought up in St Albans and has set the play in the area, specifically in a new-build estate of trimly identical houses. The suburban setting and the mundane lives of the inhabitants are familiar as is a world of barbecues and car boot sales, of football on the telly and evenings in the pub with mates.

But underneath the lower-middle-class veneer, all is not well.

Ned, a demolitions expert, and compulsive buyer of junk, hasn’t slept for months. Marlon Gill, who plays Ned, is familiar with sleep deprivation. “Being the father of a sixth-month-old boy, playing this aspect of the character has not posed too significant an acting challenge”.


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Ned constantly re-runs footage of his biggest blasts and in his sleep-deprived stupor, he is convinced his enormous collection of eclectic possessions is being gradually removed by his wife

Ned’s seductive wife, Joy, played by Helen Miller, views his progressive breakdown with a sardonic eye. Ned is still besotted with Joy, but after 11 years of marriage to a man who is slowly going mad, she is bored and looking for a distraction. She fixes on their fit neighbour, Dale, played by ex-Theatrix member Ruari Woodward who also happens to be Ned’s friend.

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Before long, they are enjoying adulterous trysts and erotic games of Scrabble, while Ned is on the road, staying in cheap hotels and preparing to blow up yet another redundant building.

Director Angela Stone said: “Butterworth writes with compassion about the imploding marriage of two ordinary people, who hate what they have become. He has an unerring ear for the banalities of lower-middle-class conversation, and the way men use matey cliches and expletives as a shield against intimacy”.

“This is not a play for those who find the vernacular shocking. However, although the swear words and adult conversation may initially shock some sensibilities, without them, the talk between Ned and Dale in particular, would not ring true”.

Parlour Song can be seen at 8pm next Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23, and from Tuesday, April 26, to Saturday, April 30. There is also a matinee at 2.30pm on Sunday, April 24.

To book tickets go to the website or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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