If you haven’t booked tickets yet for “All Things Considered” I suggest you do, as you wouldn’t want to miss this highly entertaining production of Ben Brown’s tragic-comedy.
I have to admit it is a while since I last saw a play at The Phoenix Theatre in Ross and I definitely won’t leave it so long before I go again. For a small provincial and amateur company the bar is set high and the audience is never left squirming in its seats as a result of poor performance or production values.
The Phoenix Theatre is small with only 64 seats, making it an intimate space and with no stage, proscenium arch or curtains the audience is right in there with the performers whose every blink gains significance. The set for this production, Professor Freeman’s study at an unnamed but ancient looking university, only adds to the feeling of intimacy with its wood panelling and comfortable upholstery.
“All Things Considered” is a play about life and death, the right to self-determination and self-awareness, or the lack of it. It explores profound ideas about the meaning of life while managing to be accessible, hilariously funny and achingly sad by turn.
There are some corking performances from a strong cast led by Robin Hague as the professor who appears vulnerable but steely in his convictions and to have a rather strange taste in jumpers, but the reason for that does become apparent. Over a period of two days he is visited by a succession of friends, colleagues and strangers who provoke discussions about a variety of ethical questions. There is an element of the French farce in the set up with characters amusingly overhearing things they shouldn’t and a lot of talk about sex with some quite fruity language.
The writing is sharp and well observed. The direction moves the play along at a good pace with no opportunity for getting bored and the climax brings resolution (there is a clue as to the ending early on in the play if you pay sufficient attention).