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Review of Here We Go at The Lyttelton Theatre (National Theatre), London

It must take some doing to make people leave before the end of a forty minute play, however Caryl Churchill's Here We Go managed to achieve this, and it wasn't just one, several left. I wasn't of course one of them as I have made it my decision to never leave under pain of not being able to review. However I could understand why as Churchill's play descends from promise and well written material into no writing and painful viewing.

The play itself is three small parts forming the funeral wake, the afterlife and the end of life period of an unnamed "Old Man" played with actual style by Patrick Godfrey. Not that he gets much opportunity to show his performance skills, as he doesn't appear in the first ten minutes and has no lines for the last twenty. It is as I say all very odd.

The first part is the best and actually entertaining with an impressive cast of seven gathering at the old mans wake and exchanging clever and witty dialogue in a wonderfully swift manner. Each of the cast also speaks directly to the audience informing of when and how they each die and it is a clever idea well presented. Unfortunately this short segment lasts barely ten minutes and we see none of this cast again until the curtain call.

The second part introduces us to Godfrey's Old Man, bare chested at the gates of heaven. Here he delivers a striking monologue which I suspect is all very clever and knowing for the more intellectual theatre goer. I suspect that this like perhaps a bit of the National Theatre's output is beyond my intelligence (or tries to be) and many of it references just past me by. Like Ronnie Corbett in that famous sketch, I know my place and I gradually realised that on this occasion, I was probably in this case physically out of place. It was however delivered with style by Godfrey and there were moments of humour and it finished with a very impressive flourish of lighting work.

No matter how much the second part might have passed me by, I fully appreciated what the third part was trying to say and whether it thought it was bold and impressive or not, I am afraid that I and much of the audience seemingly found it was just odd and rather foolish. Over a constantly repeated process of the Old Man being dressed and undressed by his carer (Hazel Holder), the audience was treated to twenty minutes of tedium that would have probably happily stated its case to the intelligent audience over five minutes. We knew that it was putting across the shame and sadness that an elderly person has to suffer during their dying days. We didn't need it laying on so thick that people left the theatre. No matter how well meaning and thought-through the idea had been by Churchill, it was for me (and obviously others) a clear mistake. Theatre can happily be thought provoking, but it does not have to be this excruciating to watch.

So as we progressed through the three short segments of this play we saw what started of as inventive material lose its edge totally and descend into something that you really do not want to be sitting through.

Act One:««««
Act Two:«««
Act Three:«


Performance viewed: Thursday 17th December, 2015 (Matinee) at The Old Vic, London.

Here We Go continues at The Lyttelton Theatre (National Theatre), London until Saturday 19th December 2015.

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