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BWW Review: THE GRAND, King's Head Theatre


A shockingly apolitical and unnecessarily long play set against the background of three crucial events in modern history.

BWW Review: THE GRAND, King's Head Theatre

BWW Review: THE GRAND, King's Head Theatre It's the 11th of September at The Grand in Brighton, first in 1943, then 1982, and finally in 2001. Writer David Hendon's choice of years is, obviously, everything but a coincidence. World War II, The Troubles, and then the attacks on the World Trade Centre. One wonders, how can a play that spans such crucial moments in modern history be so shockingly apolitical other than unnecessarily long?

The earliest scenes see the romantic getaway of an American soldier and an English woman while the latter's husband is stationed in the Pacific. He tries to woo her by intoning the American anthem under the shower asking her if she likes his singing (she doesn't, and neither do we) and pressures her to give in to him.

After a point, we start hoping they'd just jump into bed together so that their deeply unsexy and trudging weekend ends and we can move on with our lives. They finally get to it, she brings up her husband right after (much to his displeasure), then an air raid strikes and we proceed to more Irish matters after a very long scene change.

Gerard and Paula are planning to blow up Margaret Thatcher, who's going to reside in the room above theirs soon enough. And again, we're only left to guess what the political climate might have felt like in-between Paula's sultry looks and Gerard's innuendos. Tables turn for the only surprising moment of the show and the woman turns against him. Then, an abrupt interval happens right where we don't need one.

The action picks back up with another IRA member joining the two to keep the circle of drudginess going. We cut to black once more and a pop artist and his girlfriend bemoan their hangovers while a girl who spent the night with them appears from the bathroom. Between discussions on his fear of being forgotten, his golden cage, and the irrelevance of his issues, they turn on the tv to find out that the Twin Towers are under attack - which seemingly has nearly no impact on them.

Very little nuance and the excessive length of the three parts (which still wouldn't grant an interval), combined with some shoddy writing, regrettably prevent the stories to have any grip whatsoever. The core concept is so full of potential that it's a true shame that Hendon and his director Paula Chitty don't make any of it happen.

The characters remain insignificant and uninformed specks on an underdeveloped political background. There's a brief semblance of an attempt to make the piece circular and give it meaning, but it's so feeble it's as if it was never there, sadly. One thing, however, they nail: some hotels truly look like they haven't changed their sheets and furniture since the 40s.

The Grand runs at the King's Head Theatre until 18 September.

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