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Tmesis Theatre presents

The Dreadful Hours



by Chris Fittock


Directed By Javier Marzan


Tristan Bates Theatre


11 May – 15 May 2010












A review by Angus Templeton for EXTRA! EXTRA!


The Dreadful Hours is an ill-omened title, but the production itself was a breath of fresh air. The show alternates between two hours in a relationship between two people, the first meeting where everything is going smoothly, and a meal several years later where tensions are running high and it appears that the two characters have lost all love they once felt for each other. Like The Last Five Years we see different facets of a relationship, but this time explored through the medium of physical theatre.

Hollywood and the BBC have for years shown us awkward dates and meals on television to the point that I now find it an overused trope. But watching The Dreadful Hours, I can see why such occasions are powerful tools in the writer’s arsenal. Yorgos Karamalegos and Elinor Randle are both mesmerizing as a passive aggressive couple sitting down to dinner, managing to convey a wonderful sense of humanity through characters who aren’t particularly likable. It is very intense theatre, both physically and emotionally, with not much comic relief. There is humour there, but only on believable levels, so nothing is ever played exclusively for laughs.

I see this play as a warning. People who passionately get together when young may not be able to sustain a decent, loving relationship. “How do you kill someone? With papercuts,” says one character, giving us an insightful look at all of the hours between the two we’re privy to. It might be a happier ending than Romeo and Juliet, but the initial premise is the same - Two young people, in love, who aren’t necessarily right for one another.

At times the performers had to compete with the sound effects. Though they were used to great effect throughout the piece, especially for scene changes and when highlighting annoying traits of each character, the performances were sometimes marred. Though The Dreadful Hours isn’t a subtle piece, especially towards the end, the use of silence was sometimes destroyed by an excessively loud recording. The acting would have stood by itself.

Tmesis Theatre produces purely physical pieces, and this stylized play was no exception. It’s nice to see shows where the actors aren’t constrained physically, and watching Karamalegos and Randle throw themselves around the room was enjoyable and exhausting to watch. Both actors managed to be true to their characters and believable while delivering an almost purely physical performance, which is no mean feat. I look forward to seeing what more the two of them have to offer in future productions.


Box office:  020 7240 6283

Tristan Bates Theatre

1A Tower St, Covent Garden, WC2H 9NP






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