Writer: JP Miller
Adaptation: Owen McCafferty
Director: Jake Murray
Reviewer: Matt Forrest
When you think of London in the 1960’s, you’re immediately transported to the ‘Swinging Sixties’, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Carnaby Street and free love: however, Days of Wine and Roses, paints a very different picture, one of love, heartache, and tragedy with alcohol at the root of the problem.
Writer Owen McCafferty has adapted the original script from JP Miller’s, shifting the action from Belfast to London. After a chance meeting at Belfast airport between Irish Immigrants Donal and Mona, the pair discuss their plans as they follow their dreams to London. As the conversation grows friendlier, it is apparent there is an attraction between them and to celebrate their adventure they mark it with a drink, which, like the sword of Damocles will hover over their lives and relationship with catastrophic events.
This is a fantastic, brutal provocative piece of theatre, anchored by two exceptional performances in Danny Solomon as Donal and Alice Frankham as Mona. Solomon is charismatic and charming showing just how easy it was for him to suck Mona into his world of hard living and drinking, whilst Frankham is captivating as the fiery dreamer Mona. You fully invest and believe in their relationship, from the tenderness through to the later moments of self-destruction. It is difficult to give a true depiction of alcoholism without it seeming ‘cartoonish’ however both give thoroughly thought provoking and sensitive performances.
Credit as well to the exceptional direction from Jake Murray who managed to get two outstanding performances from his actors. At times the action seamlessly switches between tender, tragic and harrowing. McCafferty’s script is on point and littered with some humour which comes as a welcome respite from the unfolding misery. My only real criticism is that it slightly overruns and could be easily trimmed down by 10-15 minutes, as some of the points are laboured.
The set design and venue both add to the claustrophobia and feeling of isolation that the two characters feel. Yole Lambrecht has decorated the set with some fantastic images from the play with focus falling on a photograph of Piccadilly Circus showing just what obstacles our protagonists face. All this backed by a great soundtrack that includes Van Morrison’s Them and The Rolling Stones.
Overall this is a challenging, hard-hitting, but rewarding production, with a strong message about addiction and love. Definitely one to watch
Runs untill the 14th October,2017 | Image: Contributed