THEATRE Theatre Reviews Honeymoon Suite Royal Court London UK REVIEWS

Honeymoon Suite

Royal Court Theatre

Suite Love

On opening, our first impression is of a very shabby man entering a slightly shabby hotel room — both have seen better days. This is present day Bridlington. Writer Richard Bean then transports us back and forth in time, within the confines of this hotel room, telling the history of this man’s relationship with his wife and how he came to be in such a sorry state.

The concept is quite clever. Irene and Eddie, played with sincerity and enthusiasm by Sara Beharrell and Liam Garrigan, married when they were both only teenagers and honeymooned in this suite. From poor fishing backgrounds, they view the opulence of the suite from rose-tinted glasses. To them it represents all that they want for the future: an en-suite bathroom, a gravel drive and a house in Kirk Ella, near Hull. Cut forward 25 years. An older Irene (Caroline O’Neill) and Eddie (Jeremy Swift) return to the suite for their silver wedding anniversary. These are very different people. They have escaped the poverty of their predecessors and now have their dream house in Kirk Ella. Eddie is a brash wheeler-dealer who likes to be called “Tits” and who puts Irene on a pedestal, all too aware of his shortcomings and inferior intellect. Irene is no longer scared and demure, but is confident and self-assured. Treating him with irritation and scorn, she proves that she has outgrown Eddie by embarking on an affair and enrolling in university. Finally we have the present day Irene (Marjorie Yates) and Eddie (John Alderton), 43 years after they married. Long since separated, there is now a yawning chasm between them, symbolised by Irene now living in Brussels, whilst Eddie is still in this corner of Yorkshire. She is grand and commanding: a government minister and a baroness. He is unemployed and lives in this rundown hotel room. Baroness Marfleet wants a divorce and yet, despite their differences, there is still a bond and an attraction between them. It is a credit to Marjorie Yates that although this final scenario seems far fetched, we are able to suspend our disbelief and believe in it.

The play darts between three very different points in time, but director Paul Miller uses the set to it’s full advantage. Even when several different incarnations of the characters are on set at the same time, this is not confusing or annoying. Credit should also be given to the costumes under the supervision of Chris Cahill and the props in Hayden Griffin’s set design. The attention to detail is excellent, right down to the brand of carrier bags, which makes the scenes in different time frames believable. A well scripted play, Irene is the straight guy for Eddie’s wisecracks and as such Jeremy Swift and John Alderton have all of the best lines, which they deliver with aplomb. Although Honeymoon Suite may not be the best advert for Bridlington, it is a delightful comedy which demonstrates that it is certainly not grim up north. © MW

“Honeymoon Suite” is at Royal Court Theatre from the 8th of January until the 7th of February, 2004.

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