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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!



Pentameters Theatre presents


The Unrest Cure


by Simon Godziek & Rob Groves


Produced by Léonie Scott-Matthews


Directed by Rob Groves


Pentameters Theatre


8 - 26 November 2011


A detailed set immediately transports an expectant audience to a wonderfully homely hotel by the sea in Chickerell, Dorset in 1932. This will be the hub of all the action in the play once the improvised train at centre stage has performed its duty. Good friends James Isaacs (Tom Yeates) and Ernest Huddlestone (Math Sams) return to Dorset from Kew on said train. En-route, James invokes Dante in an effort to suggest that Ernest and his sister, who remained at home, may be enduring something of a purgatorial existence, running their Seaview Hotel and not doing much else. This leads to the first of a great many misunderstandings in a story which positively heaves with them. There is another Dante, the local ice-cream vendor, and he is erroneously supposed to be the point of reference, not for the last time. Little threads like this one run through the plot providing commendable consistency in this largely farcical comedy.

Brother and sister outfit, the captivating Virginia (Lucy Middleditch) and cad, Charlie, (Mark Donahue) happen to be co-passengers on the train to Dorset and they impulsively amend their travel plans so as to ensure a stop-off at the hotel they have heard mentioned. Their delightfully whimsical aim is to administer some of the unrest cure that they have heard James prescribe for Ernest and Cecilia (Eva Gray). The results prove hilariously disruptive and yield some very unexpected revelations. Word-play and misinterpretation propel the characters into comedic scenarios, and references to popular literature and theory delight the audience. At one stage a muddling Cecilia surmises that according to anarchists proper tea is theft and the proprietor of the local cat sanctuary is called Mr Schrödinger.

Much of the wordplay is lost on former Eton boy Charlie, whose attention span is slight and grasp of nuances non-existent - he is truly the token “fathead”. In direct opposition is the character of James, who is earnest, informed and impeccably mannered at every turn and Tom Yeates is flawless in his portrayal of this unusually endearing all-rounder. The comedy really gathers pace in the second half, as confusion prevails and coincidences reach their climax when Edward, the Earl of Abbotsbury and uncle of Charlie and Virginia arrives, hankering after a tipple and speaking his mind.

Small details on the set, designed by Daniel Raggett and Emily Hague, really tickle. The walls of The Sea View Hotel are adorned with pictures, solely of seascapes, re-enforcing the location. Following a collection of all the rose petals available, to provide a welcome to a special guest, even the two roses in a vase on the piano have lost their heads after the interval. A costume change sees the whole cast smarten up for the anticipated arrival of the special guest; both sets of costumes feel authentic and some attention has clearly been paid to their suitability. Virginia is attired especially well - a stylish two-piece makes way for a dashing polka-dot dress after the interval. Lucy Middleditch's outstandingly consistent performance cements her position as the central character upon which most of the action depends.

In a lovelorn moment James plays “Night and Day” by Cole Porter on the hotel piano and croons away softly. Written in 1932, the year in which the play was set, and made famous by Fred Astaire, the choice of song is testament to the authenticity and wholeheartedness apparent in every single aspect of this production. Founder of Pentameters Theatre and producer of The Unrest Cure, Léonie Scott-Matthews describes the theatre as North London's best-kept secret. It would be an injustice to the wonderful theatre itself and this hugely entertaining production not to let you in on it.



Box Office: 020 7435 3648
Pentameters Theatre
28 Heath Street (Entrance Oriel Place), Hampstead, London NW3 6TE
Tickets £12 (£10 concessions)



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