THEATRE / NEW STAGES / REVIEWS

Temple

The Room, Richmond

Shoe-fetishism is just one of the peculiar practices inhabiting the darker reaches of Judy Upton's dramatic imagination. Her last play, the award- winning Ashes and Sand, unravelled around a rotten policeman's stiletto collection. , a darkly eloquent excavation of basic family values, is carefully arranged around conflicting claims on a pair of black leather boots.

Tracking the twisted relationship between the eponymous and his disabled niece Kelly, Upton picks at notions of perspective with a bleak, wry wit. What, she elliptically asks, does it mean to step into another person's boots? As flicks through assorted home movies and family photographs in an increasingly surreal attempt to find the key to other people's emotions, the consequences of different ways of seeing, mismatched desire and familial neglect are grimly revealed.

Upton's writing is seeped in minutely observed detail and infused with an oblique psychological accuracy that gives it a compelling, jagged edge. At times her narrative contortions are difficult to follow and some of the dialogue needs fine-tuning. At her best, though, she evokes a strangely affecting world brought into sharp focus in Sophie Boyack's production which delicately exploits the play's tonal variations and leaves just the right amount to the mind's eye. Colin R Campbell as the scavenging stands out from an impressive cast.

Kate Stratton

Betrayal / The Double

Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow

Perhaps as an allusion to the costly stage machinery of the National Theatre in which it was first performed, director David Fielding extravagantly endows his Citizens' Theatre production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal with a circular portion of revolving stage. Hardly necessary, you might think, for a small, in-the-round studio. And, in true South Bank style, the ostentatious device nearly ruined the show on the first night.

As publisher Jerry (Gerrard McArthur) and his gallery-owning ex-lover Emma (Amanda Elwes) traded banalities over a bottle of hock in the opening scene, the shifting floor beneath them began to squeak and whimper like an ill-fed dog. For the next few minutes, both actors and audience struggled hard to keep a straight face. Luckily, McArthur and Elwes kept their balance and the technical fault miraculously disappeared, but it was an unsettling introduction to one of Pinter's less durable works.

Betrayal's central trick of depicting a triangular love relationship backwards (from its decline to inception) is clever and very sensible in dramatic terms, for it allows the action to build to a kind of emotional peak. But it also feels manipulative and artificial, a smart cover for a hollow plot.

Hollow characters too. Publishers and best friends Jerry and Robert (Michael Jenn) are a couple of classic Pinter male monsters, arrogant, selfish, emotionally inhibited but also, unusually for Pinter, implausibly insensitive and stupid. Betrayal's best moments come when it approaches satire, Pinter kicking against the pricks of London's cosy, incestuous literary world, where degrees of male intimacy are measured in lunches and games of squash. Ostensibly a story of marital infidelity, Betrayal is much more interested in the treacherous ambiguities of male relationships, leaving Emma a mere cipher in the proceedings, although Amanda Elwes joins the dots with admirable warmth.

Fielding's clean-cut production is never less than competent, lacking somewhat in the convincingly relaxed self-assurance of metropolitan affluence and authority, but let down in the end by a Pinter play that prefers to stay smart and cute rather than sharp.

Downstairs in the Citizens' tiny Stalls Studio, Jon Pope gives us his adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel The Double.

This disturbing story of a conscientious minor bureaucrat Jacob Golyadkin, whose life is turned upside down by the appearance of his doppelgnger, is interpreted in rich, Gothic style. Beatrice Comins and Michelle Gomez rustle about menacingly in long black dresses as a narrating double-act (and as Golyadkin's Doctor, Janitor, Amour and Boss). A general ambience of the occult (lots of candle-encircled skulls etc) never lets us forget that we are in the presence of psychological allegory, but Brendan Hooper plays Golyadkin's decline from sanity with touching sincerity, becoming finally unhinged by the malicious activities of Eric MacLennan's eerily soft-spoken Doppelgnger.

Although radically filleted by Pope's adaptation, The Double's narrative remains cumbersome, but the intensity of the performances and Pope's quirky, inventive directing and design ensure that the production never loses its hold on your attention.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect