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Review: The Chairs at Stratford Circus

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 April 2016

This latest production of The Chairs has been updated for a modern audience. Picture: Lily Owen

This latest production of The Chairs has been updated for a modern audience. Picture: Lily Owen

Terry Braun

Whether or not you enjoy this modern telling of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist play at Stratford Circus will be decided by your propensity for radical theatre innovation over traditional structure and character development.

The Chair’s post-apocalyptic lighthouse setting gives audiences an insight into the chaotic, and at times maddening, world of a elderly married couple.

Old Woman and Old Man, played expertly by visually-impaired actors Heather Gilmore and Tim Gebbels, frantically arrange chairs and welcome various invisible guests to their home as they await a mysterious orator to deliver the old man’s message.

In between, they ponder past lives and failures, and have frequent emotional outbursts and memory lapses, all the while acting erratically and emotionally.

There are some devilishly wicked lines, delivered particularly well by Gilmore who patronises and soothes her husband’s delusions in equal measure.

The decaying set is visually stunning too, while the references to technological failings makes its mark for modern audiences.

But I imagine individuals will find The Chairs as much of a frustration as it is a delight, and that comes down to the challenge of presenting contemporary audiences with what seems an outdated form.


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