The Royal Court Theatre presents
Honeymoon Suite ( Archived )
By Richard Bean
8 January - 7 February 2004
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
“You love someone, you can feel it, like a lump, summat you carry around with yer. Bloody hell, it’s either there or it int, like a hat.”
If Romeo and Juliet had lived, would their marriage have survived? How long? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty? How would the union have coped with poverty, corruption, his ignorance, her aspiration, an ungrateful daughter, no sons, infidelity with an attractive bloke on a night class, God knows how many miscarriages and even murder?
A honeymoon suite in Bridlington. Eddie and Irene begin married life with great excitement, but the future may have other ideas…
HONEYMOON SUITE is Richard Bean_’s_ third play at the Royal Court following TOAST and UNDER THE WHALEBACK (the latter was awarded the 2002 George Devine Award). HONEYMOON SUITE was awarded the 2003 Pearson New Play of the Year Award.
English Touring Theatre is renowned for its productions of classics and new work, including Peter Gill’s THE YORK REALIST, seen at the Royal Court in 2002 and winner of the 2002 Critics’ Circle Award.
“This new piece sees him entering the premier league of young British dramatists.”
Daily Telegraph on Richard Bean’s UNDER THE WHALEBACK
“English Touring Theatre a tour de force.” Time Out
John Alderton (Calendar Girls), Sara Beharrell, Liam Garrigan (Holby City),
Caroline O’Neill (The York Realist), Jeremy Swift (Abigail’s Party),
Marjorie Yates (NT and West End)
Directed by Paul Miller
Design: Hayden Griffin, Lighting: Andy Phillips, Music: Terry Davies, Casting: Simone Reynolds.
Pictured L to R: Liam Garrigan, Sarah Beharrell, Caroline O’Neill, John Alderton.
Photography Stephen Vaughan
“In the past couple of years, his subject matter has ranged from North Sea trawlerman to aid workers in the third world, from an account of life in a bread factory of an absurdist comedy about a desperate loser trying to set up his own cult.
What united these very different pieces were the sharpness of Bean’s eye and the unsentimental generosity of his heart. He is also wonderfully funny, and, as a man in his forties who came to playwriting late, he brings a wealth of lived experience to his work.
He is now making his richly deserved main-stage debut at the Royal Court with Honeymoon Suite. It’s richly funny, deeply sad and displays an Ayckbournian ingenuity in its staging.
The action is all set in the same room of a Bridlington hotel and focuses on three married couples. Eddie and Irene are both 18, and are spending their honeymoon night together. Tits and Izzy are in their forties and celebrating though the mot is far from juste their 25th wedding anniversary. Whitchell and Marfleet are both 67, long since separated and attempting to reach terms on divorce.
The trick, though it doesn’t feel like a trick, more a truthful metaphor of the transience and change of human life, is that all three couples are the same people at different stages of their lives, from the young hopefuls of the 1950s to the seen-it-all oldies of the present.
It’s a superb device, and Bean gets maximum value from it, with all six characters on stage simultaneously, as if haunted by their younger selves. The effect is often deeply poignant. But strangely, it isn’t depressing.
This is partly due to Bean’s great gift for comedy. Again and again he comes up with laugh-out-loud lines that spring naturally from character and dialogue rather than seeming like slickly inserted gags. “What does a 43-year-old lesbian with two sociology degrees do in this world?” the 67-year-old Whitchell asks of his estranged daughter. “She runs a dry ski slope in Kettering,” his wife responds, bringing the house down.
But there is also a beguiling tenderness and lack of cynicism in Bean’s writing. He never sits in judgment on his characters. They are what they are, flaws and all, and he persuades the audience to share his own evident affection for them.
Bean combines superb observation of character with a satisfying plot, involving arson, manslaughter and infidelity, and you are on the edge of your seat throughout, anxious to understand every detail of the couple lives. What has stopped Eddie in his entrepreneurial tracks, turning a successful fish merchant into a semi-derelict shoplifter? And how on earth did Irene, the daughter of a trawler deck-hand, become a baroness?
The acting in Paul Miller’s cracking production for English Touring Theatre is superb. The fervent love, hope and anxiety of a honeymoon night is portrayed with a beautiful gauche sincerity by Sara Beharrell and Liam Garrigan, both of whom capture the appearance and manners of the 1950s to perfection.
As the middle-aged couple, Caroline O’Neill and Jeremy Swift convey the bitter tension of a failing marriage with power and precision, while John Alderton and Marjorie Yates movingly suggest that age may bring wisdom as well as sorrow.
A superb new play has been done full justice.”
Charles Spencer DAILY TELEGRAPH
14 January 2004
“an enjoyably quirky way of dramatising change, disillusion and decay.”
Benedict Nightingale THE TIMES4 stars 14 January 2004
“Suddenly, with four new plays opening within 12 months, Richard Bean has become the playwright of the moment and now, in Honeymoon Suite, his most prestigious premiere to date, he has written what feels like a perfect play.
…While watching and listening, you laugh and laugh.
Paul Miller, directing, gives us one of the most breathtakingly fine productions before the British public today. I would guess that, during its run, its six actors will come to play the production’s lightness and shade in varying strengths I hope too that it transfers to the West End but what’s constantly enthralling here, and what must never change, is the sheer beauty with which Miller so fluently deploys time and space. Ostensibly, no couple is aware of the other couple’s presence; but there are wordless passages when older individuals seem to be gazing at their younger selves across the room, or sequences when a younger character seems to answer an older one’s question in the very next beat. John Alderton gives the clue to the play’s gently-does-it style by playing its most desperate character with complete lightness, but Sara Beharrell, Liam Garrigan, Caroline O’Neill, Jeremy Swift, and Marjorie Yates are also marvellous, each one, not least when silent. Time and again, you look from one to another, seeing how this character has grown into that, always with wonder.”
Alastair Macaulay FINANCIAL TIMES4 stars 14 January 2004
JERWOOD THEATRE DOWNSTAIRS
Tickets Call Box Office for returns on 020 7565 5000
Monday – Saturday 7.30pm
8 – 10 January 7.30pm
12 January 7pm
8 – 10 January 7.30pm
Sign-Interpreted Performance(s) 27 January 7.30pm Captioned performance 5 February 7.30pm
7 February 3.30pm
29 January 2.30pm
21 January 7pm
17, 24 and 31 January and 7 February 3.30pm
Thursday 5 February