Middle ★★★★ National Theatre | Apr 27 - Jun 18, 2022


Middle is the second in David Eldridge's proposed trilogy and deals with the re-examination of one's life and goals that can come when the pattern appears to be set and the major life choices made. Gary (Daniel Ryan) and Maggie (Claire Rushbrook) seem to have their lives sorted: careers determined, family established and relationship ticking along. But what if one partner starts considering other options? While Gary can find meaning and satisfaction in their day-to-day life, Maggie is unhappy and begins to wonder if her happiness can be found elsewhere. Both Ryan and Rushbrook do absolutely superb jobs of capturing their characters. Ryan's Gary is, by turns, suitably bewildered, angry, and accommodating as he strives to grasp his wife's dissatisfaction. Similarly, Rushbrook is terrific as the questioning Maggie who believes that happiness is the goal of life and that she is entitled to it in whatever form it currently takes for her. Eldridge has created complex and sympathetic characters with whom it is easy to identify and both the actors do first class jobs of bring them to life. Kudos also to Polly Findlay for her nuanced direction of what could have been an oversimplified rendering of the couple and their dilemma. If we had any quibble with this journey into the dark heart of their relationship, it is with some of the humour that seems a little broad and sometimes contrived. It might serve to provide texture to the play and to relieve the tension, but it occasionally feels forced. Still, this is a well-staged and totally gripping examination of what can happen on those surprising twists and turns that appear in the middle of the life journey.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by David Stewart.

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