Auld Acquaintance follows two couples through an extremely rocky Christmas – a dying mother, a newborn child and a kindling romance between two wives – a recipe for rising tension and bitter festive spirit.
Although it was equipped with strong narrative and characterisation, it was hard to truly connect or care about the characters’ struggles as they were quite unlikeable, although that did serve for some extremely funny conversations and one-liners. A witty, well-structured script and great performances from the actors made their characters’ difficult personalities palatable, developed by cleverly directed monologues that never felt unnatural or out of place. But overall, the piece wasn’t as emotionally affecting as it could have been.
Issues that often arise in staging a piece of theatre in such a small venue did come up, which left a few important moments to fall flat. A kiss (as I presume it was) between two central characters went by entirely hidden for those sitting at the back of the venue, and for such an intimate moment for such troubled characters, the impact of it was lost. But generally the space, or lack of, was managed extremely well throughout the rest of the play. The set consisted of just tables and chairs and left the audience to colour the rest in with their imagination. It was a good choice; anything more would have overwhelmed the stage and distracted from the actors’ strong performances, and the dialogue between them was deep and captivating enough to not need anything to support it. It’s important to note that there is very strong language throughout the play, so theatre-goers with more sensitive ears may find it a little too much.
Dark, cynical and a touch melodramatic, Auld Acquaintance is a tense, comic portrayal of family politics that made for a very enjoyable hour of performance.
Originally posted on Broadway Baby.
Image: Audley + Co Productions.