Park Theatre, London – until 12 August 2017
Kevin Elyot scored a huge success with his 1994 tragicomic gay play My Night With Reg, hailed as an Abigail’s Party for the HIV era, but his later playscripts floated beneath the radar as his career focused on Marples and Poirots for TV, so this smartly-cast outing for Twilight Song is its first.
Sadly, despite a few crisp one-liners and a catchy title I’m surprised was never used elsewhere, Twilight Song emerges as a frail Rattiganesque slice of sixties’ repressed sexuality contrasted with an awkward contemporary tryst between Adam Garcia’s cash-strapped estate-agent-turned-hustler and Paul Higgins’ desperate mothers’ boy.
Both are intensely watchable actors, Higgins’ recent television work is impressively varied, but you don’t believe the basis of their sexual transaction, or care much about their outcomes. In contrast and in a much more enthralling sub-plot, Philip Bretherton (yes, yes, Judi Dench’s son-in-law from As Time Goes By, get over it) and the shamelessly under-used Hugh Ross play a glorious gentlemanly pair of ripe and conflicted old fruits fencing with jeopardy and unspoken hurt.
Elsewhere Bryony Hannah – the one who gave up being a midwife to become a nun, or possibly the other way round in the BBC’s carbolic soap opera – plays both Higgins’ wife and mother and manages to stand around staring vacantly and drinking copious amounts of gin while pregnant, possibly to abort the baby sired by Garcia’s gardener character in the briefest of push-comes-to-shoves over the back of the same sofa on which he impaled her husband/son.
Can’t think what Sister Evangelina would say.