Long Title, Short Play

THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS at Hampstead Theatre Club, Swiss Cottage, NW3.

This is a strange play which unfortunately fails to live up to the promise of its early scenes. The character of Beatrice, an eccentric woman bringing up two teenage daughters and forced to look after an elderly invalid in order to earn money, is very reminiscent of the mother in Tennessee William’s play “The Glass Menagerie”. Similarly, her youngest daughter reminds one of the heroine in that same play. The mother, with her overwhelming burden of responsibility in life is never far away from a nervous breakdown, and her almost non-reaction to her daughter’s sudden success at college is understandable.

In the difficult role of the mother, all nerve ends and near hysteria, Sheila Hancock gives the finest performance of her career. Yvonne Antrobus is extremely moving as the shy and studious daughter, and her awkward stance and forlorn face are entirely in keeping with the role. In perfect contrast is Pamela Moiseiwitsch as her chatty epileptic sister.

Very little occurs on stage ana yet I felt throughout that any moment something special was about to occur. But in spite of its lengthy title the play ended within 2 hours (including a 15 minute interval) and I felt slightly cheated. I feel that I shall have to read the text of this play at a future date as in spite of its shortcomings it left an impression with me.

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