A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Trafalgar Studios - ★★★★ - Until November 30, 2019


With an aging population the role of care giver is increasingly becoming one of the mandatory stages of life for all of us. How do we cope? Peter Nichol's 1967 play looks at how caring for a severely disabled child tests individuals and relationships. Reactions in such circumstances are never simple. Despair can lead to cynicism and rage, just as guilt can lead to impractical hope and denial. Both of the parents of Joe Egg fail to cope in very different ways, and they are surrounded by friends who offer hollow and sometimes quite cruel "help".  This is a dark work that makes us ponder some very difficult questions whilst pointing out there are no easy answers. Some of the social attitudes expressed in the play seem rather dated, and the work itself has some awkward moments. For us, the breaking of the fourth wall, long periods of exposition and various asides undercut the drama of this powerful story. The cast did the best it could with what it had been given. The performances of Toby Stephens and Claire Skinner as Bri and Sheila, were extremely moving. They embodied the parents' pain and how it impacted their own relationship. The friends, Pam and Freddie, seem to be caricatures of attitudes. Indeed, they were like the characters Bri acts out in his satiric tirades about the parents' interaction with the medical system, rather than fully-formed individuals. As Grace, Patricia Hodge was totally believable, but again her character seemed to be a bit of a stereotype. Despite these caveats, the play deals with an extremely relevant, and complex issue in a heart-searing manner. It is well worth taking in.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until November 30, 2019
Mon - Sat: 7:30 pm, Thu & Sat: 2:30 pm
Trafalgar Studios
Nearest station: Charing Cross Station
https://trafalgar-studios.com/shows/a-day-in-the-death-of-joe-egg/

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