Review: The House Of Blue Leaves at Titchfield Festival Theatre

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John Guare’s 1966 tragi-comedy was Titchfield Festival Theatre’s latest offering.

This play is really very American. Its predominant seasoning is guilt; Vietnam guilt, Catholic guilt, marital guilt, served up in dollops with the three seemingly guilt-free people in this melee being the beer-swigging, thieving nuns. Oh, yes.

The structure is unbalanced – Act 1 being restricted to the three main characters played by Stuart Hibbard (Artie), Molly Robertson (Bunny) and Georgie Gulliford (Bananas) delivering chunks of character history and back-story and Act 2 resembling a Whitehall farce with nuns, starlets, military police et al flying across the stage at speed.

Act 1, by its nature, needs more attack and pace. At times things dragged – Stuart Hibberd being fond of the over-long pause. Some of the accents need reining in a bit, too, as occasionally dialogue became unintelligible.

Shining in the midst of this is Georgie Gulliford as the psychosis-ridden wife. Her portrayal is all in the eyes with little physical meandering. Very still, very effective. A joy to watch.

Alistair Smyth as her son, Ronnie, gives some of the finest work I’ve seen from him, Clare Blackburn as the little nun is joyous and Lou Mannell as Corrinna is controlled and beautiful.