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Review of Kissing Sid James at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Kissing Sid James by Robert Farquhar is an odd little play. Essentially consisting of a dirty weekend, it is also a greatly sad play, laying many emotions bare. No happy endings and an underlying grimness. It also blows rather hot and cold in the script sense. There are scenes that are tremendously funny, like those in the bedroom in the first half. The "sex" scene in particular gives plenty of moments of hilarity, especially when Eddie (Mark Farey) just won't keep quiet, as his companion Crystal (Juliet O'Connor) desires. Eddie indeed just can't keep his Nobby Stiles in, it would seem.

However for all the good scenes and witty lines in the play, there is also a huge amount of pondering. The second half is particularly at fault. When Crystal threatens to leave, it seems an age before she makes the decision. Also as this is just a two-hander, we have some really odd scenes of the characters talking to someone off stage. They just seem strange, and the only ones that work for me are the conversations with the room service as they actually have some purpose.

However for all its faults, it is made an entertaining piece by the two performers. Both Juliet O'Conner and Mark Farey are excellent as the loving, hating, sparing pair. They literally put all their effort into the occasionally meandering script and put simply make the whole play watchable. The only fault I would lie at the production is the over work on the set. There is far too many laborious alterations to the set between scenes, which just breaks the flow of the piece. It is impressive how much effort has gone into the set changes, but in this case I think less would have certainly been more.

So, a slightly clunky script, which is made watchable by two superb performances. It comes recommended simply because of them and not the material. However remember to take your inflatable dinghy, you just never know.

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Performance reviewed: Tuesday 17th January, 2015

Kissing Sid James continues at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 21st March, 2015. For full details visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/

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