Ian Whybrow

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March 21st Terms of Disengagement

March 21, 2013 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

I’m puzzled by all the fuss about “Quartermaine’s Terms”. A curate’s egg of a play, its good bits keep you watching and occasionally laughing out loud, but all in all, it’s disappointing. I went with Ann and a friend with high expectations and a sense that Richard Eyre and Simon Gray could do no wrong. We were all waiting for Rowan Atkinson to earn his five stars by doing somehow subtly off-piste but the old ticks and mannerisms are still there, though in a kind of stultified slow motion. In fact, the whole cast is made up of caricatures and the piece played as farce as if it were a tragedy by Chekhov played for laughs in the way we’re often told that Russians like it played. But that’s stretching a point.  What the old nitwit Q has done to merit a spotlight on his decline and fall, we never know, except that he offers himself as a cushion to be sat on by everyone he meets. A doddering, lonely old failure from the start, he never achieves tragedy except in broad existential terms – and watching worms wriggling on pins is not terribly satisfying, especially from uncomfortable seats costing fifty-eight quid each.

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