Last time I was at the Donmar I was awestruck by Jude Law performing only metres away from me! This time I was coming to see a younger and less famous, but equally talented, star. My friend Matt Tennyson is one to watch on the London theatre scene and this impressive performance certainly supports that.
The current show at the Donmar is made up of three short plays by Robert Holman, an underrated and definitely underperformed playwright. Each script touches on the devastating effects of wars in different eras, each provokes very human reactions.
I found the first play by far the most engaging and endearing, to the credit of the writer and actors. We watch two curious young men picnicking, nibbling at cheese and cherries whilst picking apart each other’s agendas. It was beautifully acted, Matthew Tennyson playing an openly gay artist, Eric Faber and Jordan Dawes as Oliver Bell, a naïve but inquisitive farmer lad. As they engage in menial conversation a friendship blossoms; in the background German bombs boom.
Removed and uncomfortable, the second play is odd and I found it difficult to concentrate on the action before me. Geoffrey Church (John Hollingworth) visits May Appleton (Susan Brown) to inform the woman of her son’s death in the Falklands War. Geoffrey barely interacts or speaks, it is almost entirely a monologue from the older troubled wife and mother who seems to have never quite understood her proud son. Again it is a meeting of total strangers and yet this time I felt less connected.
‘Making Noise Quietly’ is the third and final play of the night. Holman’s script is filled with friction and angst and though at times passionate and moving, the realisation is not quite effective. Now wealthy, concentration camp survivor Helene Ensslin (played by a sensitive Sara Kesterlman) allows an obnoxious British squaddie and his mute autistic stepson to stay with her. It is never clear why these strangers have been brought together and this consequently makes the play rather difficult to believe. Of the three actors, I most enjoyed watching Jack Boulter as Sam who is impressive as the youngest member of the cast.
Despite its flaws, it was a joy to discover Robert Holman’s intensely real and raw play, and very enjoyable to watch Peter Gill’s inspired production.
Visit the Donmar Warehouse website here for more information.