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Daytona/Theatre Royal Brighton and on tour

It’s not everybody – not even Robert Tickler- who gets prime billing on the Rust two days running and, folks, I will be reviewing Guys and Dolls at the Chichester Festival Theatre on Saturday for Sunday. Daytona is a play written by actor Oliver Cotton. Set in Brooklyn in 1985, the story is a redemptive one. After 30 years absence Billy turns up at his brother Joe’s home. It transpires that the two have suffered and survived a concentration camp. Billy recognised  the sadistic guard Gruber in Daytona and shoots him. I won’t say any more as there is another crucial revelation. The play stars Maureen Lipman as the wife Elli and Harry Shearer, chiefly known as a voice on The Simpsons, and in his first stage role as Joe. Oliver Cotton plays Billy.

It’s unusual to have just the three elderly roles and all of them capture the accent perfectly. Maureen Lipman showcases her talent as she and her husband are at the beginning practising for a dance competition. In the finale scene she executes a masterful waltz of graceful movement. Much in the way of Arthur Miller the play has its longeurs. I suppose this is inevitable in a three-hander where some of the speeches are just too drawn out. There were flashes of that wonderful America Jewish humour but we could have done with  more. I wonder if Maureen Lipman is anxious to dispel the Beattie image as it is her lot to be cast in Jewish roles. You rarely hear an authentic Jewish or American accent but in her case she masters both.

The play has many themes: revenge, retribution, redemption despite a story-line clothed in improbabilities. The affinity in words between atonement and Daytona is not artificial. It all makes for a compelling night of theatre.

About Tim Holford-Smith

Despite running his architectural practice full-time, Tim is a frequent theatre-goer and occasional am-dram producer. More Posts