BWW Review: SYDNEY AND THE OLD GIRL, Park Theatre
Nell (brilliantly played by Miriam Margolyes) and her son Sydney (Mark Hadfield) live in a run down house in the East End of London. Wheelchair-bound, Nell relies on her son heavily for everything and he is loathe to help her. The truth is, mother and son despise each other. Using extremely cruel language, they exchange verbal barbs and he delights in telling her that he can't wait for to die so he can have his inheritance while she tells him she'll make sure there's nothing left for him to have.
While Nell is more than capable of going toe to toe with her son verbally, Sydney pushes the boundaries occasionally entering into physical abuse, throwing drinks in his mother's face and even threatening her with a lighter and a screwdriver.
Vivien Parry provides some much needed light relief as Mrs Fee, Nell's part-time carer. Amongst the spitefulness and cruelty, she is a breath of fresh air with her Irish charm and devotion to a charity which helps Irish orphans living in London.
Director Phillip Breen does a good job of keeping the pace steady throughout, particularly the second act which focuses on Nell's legacy. Margolyes, although confined to a wheelchair for almost the entire performance, is outstanding, bringing a unique energy to the stage. She perfectly captures the two sides to Nell - the grumpy old woman, screwing her face up in disgust at her son and the underlying sadness of someone haunted by past events.
Parry is wonderful as the kindhearted carer however Hanfield never fully seems comfortable as Sydney. Perhaps that's a reflection of just how truly awful his character is.
While I never got fully into the story, this production is worth seeing for Margolyes' performance alone - she really is a force on stage.
Sydney & the Old Girl at Park Theatre until 30 November
Photo Credit: Pete Le May