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Visiting Mr Green

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 28th Jul 2011 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

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There is much to enjoy from The Customs House’s latest theatrical offering, Visiting Mr Green. It is a well-written piece of theatre which is performed with panache by two talented actors. And, whilst it may not appeal to audiences who are used to altogether flashier fare, it is a sensitive, gentle and ultimately uplifting production which deals with themes of tolerance, acceptance and diversity.

What made this production so enjoyable for me is the fact that, right its core, it concentrates on character and storyline rather than special effects. Two actors, two characters, two lives which are, initially, unrelated but are soon inextricably entwined.

A somewhat careless and speeding Ross Gardiner (Collin Baxter) almost runs over the frail and recently widowed Mr Green (G. Phillip Hope) and is ordered to spend his community service period shopping and cleaning for the old man. Neither is happy about the situation and both are resentful of each other. However, when Mr Green learns that Ross is Jewish, like himself, a friendship begins to form. That tentative bond is tested when the older man discovers the younger is gay.

Hope and Baxter are a great double-act and nail their parts with admirable precision. Hope, as the hunched, constantly trembling geriatric, should be easy to dislike due to his bigoted views but this is not the case. We make allowances for his homophobia, attributing it to his orthodox views and a lack of understanding. Baxter, as the too-busy-to-care corporate animal, should also evoke our anger on occasion for his lack of consideration. He doesn’t. In both cases, this is due to the talent and stagecraft of the actors. Both portray their characters with honesty and sincerity and the result pays dividends.

On press night, much was made of the lengthy breaks between scenes which, to be fair, did tend to stilt proceedings somewhat and lead to annoying, incessant whispering from the audience. However, this minor irritation did not spoil my enjoyment of a charming production which explored issues close to my own heart in an intelligent and entertaining manner.

Steve Burbridge.

Runs until Saturday 30 July 2011.

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