Many Roads to Paradise

4
Finborough Theatre till 5th July
By Gene - 16th Jun 2008
‘North London. Across a crowded karaoke bar, chunky travel agent Martin nervously catches the eye of his not-so-young internet stud. At a Jewish residential care home, blind and elderly Stella shares make-up and millinery tips with her Muslim nurse. And in their spacious house, a long-term lesbian relationship crumbles as Helen and her alcoholic partner squabble viciously over fig and honey tart. Six people whose lives are inextricably linked, each searching for some kind of salvation. But with so many roads to paradise, which one will they choose?’

A conventional mix of unconventional relationships past their sell-by date; misunderstandings of need, want, love, lust, desire and reality combine to create a super play that is both hilariously funny and so very tragically sad. Miriam Karlin heads a super cast in this deeply felt journey about people trying to find their own paradise. Miriam Karlin’s stoic Stella commands our attention as she manipulates each moment to get maximum laughter, or heartbreaking pathos: in the twitch of an eye or the subtlest of tonal changes. Amanda Boxer and Gillian Hanna are superb as the world-weary lesbian couple who have outlived their own relationship, but separation means loneliness. Danny Hill creates a guilt-ridden, downtrodden Gaydar voyeur who wants the perfect match but it just does not exist - for him! Brilliant comic timing and complete command of every moment, Danny Hill is the excellent choice to wriggle out of every awkward moment the play and his ‘toy boy’ provocateur throws at him. This comes in the guise of Jason Wing’s simmering and slightly anarchic Theo. Elizabeth Uter is the young star of the show who lovingly and believably calms, cajoles and protects the inimitable Stella. Director, Anthony Biggs, navigates the play and the tiny stage with artistry and skill; extracting every comic possibility, leaving the sadness and desolation of lonely lives to sit in the pit of the stomach once the laughter has long faded.

Beck Rainford’s intimate and multi-locational design is as beautiful as it is functional; allowing the action to flow freely while firmly locating it in its own tight environment.

For many reason this play should be seen by everyone. Drama students and theatre-lovers alike will applaud fine acting by the strongest of casts, coupled with witty and engaging dialogue, that sits within a world so remarkably realised by Anthony Biggs and his team….you would pay a lot of money in the West End for a class act like this, so why not pop along to the Finborough and find out what great nights are made of.

The are, indeed, many roads to paradise, and Stuart Permutt’s play is one of them

Gene David Kirk


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