Traverse Theatre
August 11–30 (ex. 17,24) 9.30

Theatre for BreakfastGentrification: A Converation with my Neighbour Henry

‘The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our heart away, a sorid boon!’

As the poem by Wordsworth hints, getting up and doing things is a bit of a slog, and gets in the way of getting up and doing nothing. The poem also hints at a world increasingly governed by regimented work hours and industry, which stifles our natural self.

The poem is well chosen for the play ‘Gentrification: A Conversation with my Neighbour Henry’ by Enda Walsh. The play is a suspense filled peek into middle class paranoia. It’s a world of pain au chocolate and cranberry juice for breakfast, Radio 3, Beethoven and ballet dancing. Only gradually does it dawn, on the audience up at the crack of, that Henry has in fact ran off with Enda’s daughter. He now demands a ransom.

The fear evoked from the loss of a child, especially after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, has an obvious resonance. Added to this is the hint that, in an increasingly self-centred world, our neighbours may in fact be brutalised thugs. This is made even more unsettling in the idyllic and quintessentially middle class vision of the play.

The obvious symbolism of a blackbird offering a ring from a can of coke did, however, leave me wondering. A blackbird can be used variously as either a symbol of promise, a good omen. Or death. It’s thus unclear what Enda was actually supposed to getting at here.

Theatre for Breakfast is also a nice format for the crusty eyed theatre goer. Your reviewer liked getting fed bacon rolls and coffee. It helped him think at 930 in the morning.

An unsettling vision of the increasingly anxious state of British parents – with Beethoven (and Bacon rolls).

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