Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Having spent the intervening years as the favourite prostitute of numerous MPs, Mary now cuts a richer and more refined figure than the rest of the town, until she opens her mouth and gleefully swears up a storm.
She’s come back to get her adopted sister Laura (Cush Jumbo) to leave with her and get away from the incestuous interest of her brother the Harvest King (John Dagleish.) Mary’s a fake psychic but during the course of the play she starts making real predictions, and she has run-ins with the Lord, his right-hand man Heron (Trevor Fox,) and a group of Irish labourers led by Connor (Ian-Lloyd Anderson.) The play’s an awkward match to the large stage, it’s mostly made up of intimate scenes that feel lost on it, with the occasional Wicker Man scene of a large ensemble celebrating the harvest; Jeremy Herrin’s production doesn’t manage to make either end of the scale interesting (except by accident, like when a part of the set burst into flames slightly before someone set fire to it, and then went back down into the Drum to a chorus of crashes and bangs.)
But the biggest problem is in the language, and not just in the swearing-that-thinks-it’s-clever, or jokes so cheesy that kids’ TV would be too embarrassed to use them. Moore is presumably trying for blank verse but has landed on what sounds like English as a foreign language – disjointed, back-to-front, the English more forced than an ABBA lyric and sometimes going full Yoda. It renders it incomprehensible and so painfully dull I’m afraid I can only review the first act – I couldn’t face another hour, and given that there was a busy queue for the cloakroom at the interval I was far from alone.
Common by DC Moore is booking in repertory until the 5th of August at the National Theatre’s Olivier.
Running time: Advertised as 2 hours 25 minutes.
Photo credit: Johan Persson.