Sunset at the Villa Thalia #review #theatre

My last trip to the theatre was ended with a cough that sounded much like the engine of my Honda 250 after I put it back together and found I had acquired two spare nut thingies. My companion told me she didn’t want to be near me when I brought the National to a halt so that was that.

Consequently I looked forward to the latest trip with a frisson of excitement. That is until I realised I had totally forgotten what it was we were going to see. My problem is one of efficiency combined with incorrigible tidiness. Huh? It’s like this. I book a long way in advance to ensure we have tickets. I write the time and place and name of the play in the family diary. I put the brochure we used to decide to book this play ‘somewhere safe’. In the intervening 3 months I tidy up. I place the brochure somewhere else ‘safe’. In the self same 3 months the brochure may or may not end up recycled, upcycled, in the dog’s bed or the cat litter tray or where it should be. The day before we are due to go I am asked, ‘So what is it we are seeing?’ In a frenzy of annoyance I hunt the brochure and can’t find it so I go on the net to read about it and that’s where it all falls apart.

The problem? Reviews. By this point the play has been reviewed and the search engine directs me to the reviews, not a sumary. It shows the star rating and I find myself drawn to read what some hemorrhoidal sociopath has written. In this case

  • Independent 3*s … disappointing new work
  • Guardian 2*s … over stuffed and underheated
  • The Stage 2*s … Initially intriguing but ultimately unconvincing new play set in 1960s Greece

The premise is a young couple, in 1967 Greece are staying on the cheap on a small island and meet an American couple. They form a friendship, they are persuaded that, because the Greek owners want to buy they should stump up the little cash – the Greek owners are desperate to leave – and buy the place. They do, the Colonels throw out the dodgy left wing government the next day and we skip to 1976 when democracy has just been restored. The idealistic youngsters are now parents and the Americans back for a visit.

As a human drama, the interaction between the couples is well done. Perhaps the attraction for the young woman for the older American man is unlikely but, hey, these things happen with a surfeit of sun and retsina.

It’s the interwoven politics which have galled the critics and which are rather trite. The US is to blame for the coup, the American is really CIA and by 1976 is loathing himself but still believes what he does is necessary. The idealistic youngsters are then shown to be hypocrites by exploiting the desperation of the locals to leave. It’s a nice juxtaposition and in the hands of a Miller or a Frayn or, indeed David Hare circa 1995 would have been neatly and craftily unpicked. Here it’s a little too simplistic, a little too dumped at the end in set piece speeches or the American man and the younger woman. The other two are more props for these two to upload their polemic.

Oh, was that a plot spoiler? Meah, read the reviews like me and see for yourself.

Thing is, despite its weaknesses – it could and should be workshopped a lot harder – Sunset at Villa Thalia was an enjoyable evening. It helps that the acting was good – Ben Miller and Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Mrs Downton) were excellent -, the company was good and the ice cream excellent. I forgive a lot for decent ice cream.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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11 Responses to Sunset at the Villa Thalia #review #theatre

  1. M. L. Kappa says:

    Putting things ‘somewhere safe’ has always been my downfall… Still sounds like a fun evening!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For a moment I thought you were writing about Mamma Mia! Phew!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Someplace safe is still a mystery to me. I’ve been looking forever and can’t find it. 😀 It’s like a black hole.
    Nice review. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mamma Mia says:

    I saw the first preview of this play and loved it, I was completely bemused when I saw many of the negative reviews and can’t help feeling that they were missing the point… apart from ‘Variety’ which was probably very much getting the point being an American publication, hence it’s rancour. I have since been relieved to read that I was not alone in my enjoyment, though no doubt the damage has been done. Very sad if so, as the cast (including two remarkably natural child actors) and their performances were of a very high calibre indeed.
    (Ps It’s Ben Miles… Not Miller… Sorry!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks for the comment. Yes critics can do real damage. And thanks for the correction. I will change when I can get to it
      My phone app won’t let me in!!


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