First Night: Riflemind, Trafalgar Studios, London

2.00

A dull sex, drugs and rock and roll reunion

Our subconscious repeatedly returns us to the scene of our crimes in our troubled dream life. And, as Paul McCartney used to sing, with the plangent emphasis on the irrecoverable nature of the past: "Once there was a way to get back homeward". So you wonder why any rock group in its right mind would ever contemplate, still less attempt, to put into practice, a comeback reunion.

This has served as the scenario for a number of plays and films, most recently the charmingly funny movie, Still Crazy with Bill Nighy. Now it provides the subject matter for Riflemind, the play that inaugurates the partnership at the Trafalgar Studios between ATG, the English theatre-owning outfit, and the Sydney Theatre Company which is run by actress Cate Blanchett.

It's the second opening shot within the week of a new initiative in London theatre. But if Ivanov, which kicked off the Donmar's season in the West End, is astonishingly good, this international co-producing effort is mortifyingly bad. The embarrassment is compounded by the fact that the play is by Andrew Upton who just happens to be Mr Cate Blanchett. Her political nous should have told her that if she was determined to begin the collaboration with a work by her spouse, it behoved that drama to be the bee's knees. But, for long stretches, Riflemind is more evocative of an ant's arse. God knows, the deliberations that must have dragged on in order to bring the no-longer-boyish boyband Take That back together can scarcely have widened anyone's emotional or intellectual horizons. I would prefer, though, to sit through a dramatisation of the minutes of those meeting than take another look at this show, which has been given a listless British premiere by the great movie actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. There's one potentially very good scene, flattered here by the excellent acting from John Hannah and the wonderful Paul Hilton. Hannah plays John, the defunct rock group's composer and leading spirit, who toppled into drugs hell and emerged the other side minus guitar but with a clean-ish bill of health. Hilton plays his brother, Phil, the more talented but less acknowledged of the two, who confronts him with his heroin-fuelled need for John to re-occupy his former place in the duo's old psychic economy.

Elsewhere, though there are dead lines, there are no deadlines to give the piece requisite tension, nor, despite a talented cast, much inkling as to why we should give a damn about any of them or their rekindled feuds. One scene that is performed with a certain urgency is the sex-act-from-behind engaged in by the band's rock chick and its most platitudinous pseudo-profound member. One nonetheless continued to glance at one's watch.

Early on, there's a neat sound effect as the helicopter that has brought the band to John's hideaway whirs overhead. How one pines to be spirited away by that chopper, even if it involves clinging to its slicing rotary blades.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high