Superb Cast - The Winterling by Jez Butterworth
The Winterling by Jez Butterworth, Loft Theatre, Leamington from 22 Feb – 4 March 2023
Review by Les Grafton
The set, which greets the audience, when they enter the Loft auditorium, speaks of the quality of this production and foreshadows the drama to follow. A dilapidated farmhouse is lit by a full moon, guttering candles and lanterns. A dying fire glows in a broad hearth. There are the snuffles of night creatures and the shattering sound of jets being tested over Dartmoor.
Two Pinteresque characters are introduced, a city-boy’s slick blue suit juxtaposed with a countryman’s rough, practical clothing. West, played by Dave Crossfield, is a former London gangster, Draycott, (Matthew Salisbury), a tramp and scrounger who has also been a cook. Their dialogue crackles with humour that contrasts with the menace emanating from West.
Later two other characters down from London, enter and divulge an uncertain relationship with West and each other. Wally, (Phil Reynolds) and his sidekick Patsy, played with gusto by James McCabe. A fifth member of the cast is alluded to but is as yet unseen. Brooding also, in the background is an Iron Age fort with mysterious significance.
The second act shifts time to a year earlier and we meet Lue, the hitherto unseen figure at the window from act one. Nona Davies is note-perfect as the vulnerable girl who needs a “businessman” to sign her passport application and sees West as a means to this end.
The final act evolves with increasing menace and the power dynamics between the characters move towards an unexpected ending. The play has a challenging mix of humour, threat and mystery. Director Tom O’Connor deftly guides the audience through the fog, aided by a superb cast, who handle the shifting dialogue with confidence, even on the first night.
For tickets go to: https://lofttheatrecompany.com/