08 November 2011 (released)
17 November 2011
The Unrest Cure takes you back to the early 1930s, when English language and mannerisms seemed to belong to an era most modern folk would find themselves at loss with.
Don’t let that put you off, for this delightful ‘new’ period comedy (inspired by P.G. Wodehouse’s distinctive humour, as well as a short story by Saki) has plenty to offer for 21st century audiences.
Let’s start with the plot: During a railway journey, Ernest Huddlestone (Math Sams), the proprietor of the quiet ‘Sea View Hotel’ in Chickerell, West Dorset, complains to his friend James Isaacs (Tom Yeates) about a malady we all can relate to: being stuck in a rut. His sighs of boredom are overheard by young Virginia (Lucy Middleditch) and her foppish brother Charlie (Mark Donahue). The two are in seemingly high spirits… and in the mood for playing pranks! They decide to create some Puckish mischief by inflicting an ‘unrest cure’ for Ernest. As the name suggests, this is the opposite to a cure that promises rest and relaxation, instead driving the ‘patient’ into an almost frenzy-like state of unrest. James is also in on the wicked game. He lets on that none other than the Prince of Wales is soon to visit the little seaside hotel for a stay.
While Ernest’s spinster sister Cecilia (Eva Gray) takes to the news with considerable excitement, it’s Ernest who works himself close to a nervous breakdown. Sporting specs even the NHS wouldn’t prescribe, and clothes that sum up his overall prim and proper persona, it’s hard to decide whether to feel sorry for him being made the butt of jokes or whether to giggle with the mischievous siblings. The audience opted for the giggles.
Enter Edward (Steven Blake), and this comedy of confusions, mistaken identities, mysteries and quaint humour reaches almost screwball level.
The cast are superb, with each and every one of the actors not only having a thorough understanding of the character they play, but having great fun with it. Math Sams’ strait-laced and bored Ernest is magnificently and gradually drifting into a state of manic unrest, while Mark Donahue is a delight to watch in his deadpan approach of the calculating and almost overconfident Charlie. And if you think it can’t get much better than that, wait until Steven Blake’s Edward makes his entrance, he brings the house down! Really, who would have thought that ‘Sagittarian vs. Vegetarian’ jokes could be so funny!
On the female front, we have a bubbly Lucy Middleditch as the wickedly scheming Virginia, a part she dons with such gusto and conviction - we can’t wait what mischief she might come up with next. In contrast, Eva Gray as Ernest’s sister Cecilia hits the right note as a ‘lady of a certain age’ whose state of mind drifts between pathos, disillusionment, hope and longing for fulfilment.
Last but not least, Tom Yeates’ bumbling and shy character James is challenged by the tricky task of making advances towards Virginia, whilst never too shy to come up with the next bundle of lies to fool poor, unassuming Ernest even further. Yeates’ is excellent in hopping between both scales.
Audiences will furthermore be amused to see Pentameters doyenne Léonie Scott Matthews in the part of wide-eyed and overexcited tea lady Mrs. Thomas. Léonie also produced the play.
The Unrest Cure is directed with great panache and an impeccable feel for the play’s period style and comic timing by Rob Groves, with additional help from Daniel Raggett and Simon Godziek.
The set design by Godfrey Old adds to the period atmosphere.
The Unrest Cure runs until Nov 26th at Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead, NW3 6TE.
For further info contact Box Office at 020 7435 3648 or visit www.pentameters.co.uk