Interiors, Brighton Festival


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The Independent Culture

There’s domestic drama at Brighton's Theatre Royal where the stage is filled with a large window, behind which twinkles an invitingly lit dining room. This is the setting for Interiors, first seen at Edinburgh’s Traverse in 2009 and now, thankfully, revived.

Over the course of two compelling hours, we spy on a dinner party through the window, from the frantic last-minute laying of the table to drunken, tear-stained goodbyes, without ever hearing a word from its guests. Think sitting in front of Big Brother with the sound down but far, far more entertaining. 

The play is inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1895 play Interieur, in which an old man arrives at a house with bad news but unable to deliver it, stands at the window watching the comings-and-goings of the family inside. In Vanishing Point’s exquisite update, a wry, omniscient voiceover gives insights into the thoughts of the guests. It’s a hoot, but at the same time the menacing Arctic setting – the guests arrive in trapper hats, with guns slung on their backs – reminds us that the destructive forces of fate are never far away.

A wonderful ensemble cast skewers the tiny gestures which betray the interior lives of the guests with supreme skill. Over pork stew and lemon posset, each runs the gamut from hilarity to tragedy. And it all adds up to one of the most life-affirming, extraordinary pieces of theatre I’ve seen.