Suburban hell from the Company of Ten

Parlour Song

Parlour Song - Credit: Archant

If life imitates art then suburbia is not a good place to be according to acclaimed playwright Jez Butterworth.

Parlour Song

Parlour Song - Credit: Archant

His Parlour Song, which is currently being performed by the Company of Ten in the Abbey Theatre Studio, paints a gloomy picture of suburban living with all its frustrations and repetitions.

But what relieves it - and makes it one of the best productions the St Albans drama company has put on in the Studio for some time - is that parts of it are hilarious.

And despite a love - or should that be lust - triangle involving just three characters throughout, the comic content lightens up even the most difficult of times.

Jez Butterworth, brought up in St Albans, clearly understands suburbia very well and casts a cynical eye over the ‘foxes in boxes’ mentality that pervades modern life where everyone wants to be able to buy their own home and make it their castle.


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And that must have once been the case with married couple Ned and Joy and their neighbour Dale whose wife is only named but never seen.

Marlon Gill as Ned, the demolitions expert who is besotted with wife Joy, played by Helen Miller, is an absolute hoot. Overweight, he is desperate to get fit to win back her affection which is in short supply.

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The funniest scene finds him exercising with the superfit Dale - a fabulous performance by Ruari Woodward - but it is closely followed by Ned following the advice of a sex tape in his bedroom before Joy walks in on him.

On a more serious note, he frets about the way his possessions are disappearing as his marriage disintegrates.

Helen Miller, a versatile actress who can play both comedy and more serious roles, is in her element as Joy particularly when she lures Dale into her web while Ned is away with lascivious suggestions about how she wants lemon in a gin and tonic.

Angela Stone shows her pedigree as director. The production is tight and well thought out while the intimate nature of the Studio is perfect for a play whic has a lot to do with claustrophobia as well as demolition.

Parlour Song runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or click here.

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