E.M. Forster’s MAURICE ☆☆☆☆☆
Having recently seen the wonderful BFI restored 1987 film of Maurice it seemed to me an impossible mission to view this as a play considering the time span and many different scenes and locations.
How wrong – this is a stunning, inventive production, David Shields has created a very innovative set to suggest all the various locations and proved that a small space can achieve a cinematic feel, a feat of choreography by the small cast to change scenes, props etc, a glorious soundscape by David Bahanovic / Andy Hill, evocative lighting by Jack Weir, brilliantly, delicately directed by the original film Maurice and world renowned actor James Wilby and I believe his first stage direction and certainly not his last after the success of this production.
A total triumph of a production in fact.
The action flowed so seamlessly through the many scenes and gathered a tremendously romantic conclusion in the second act.
For those not familiar with the book by E.M.Forster or the film this is a short synopsis:
The opening in the 1900’s is set on a beach with Maurice about to leave school and has a ’goodbye lesson’ in the facts of life from a school master it then moves fast forward to Cambridge, where he becomes friends with Clive Durham. Eventually Clive confesses his love for Maurice, who soon realizes he is a homosexual when reciprocates Clive’s feelings. The two embark on an intense but chaste affair to avoid tarnishing Clive’s reputation, but eventually the relationship ends, and Clive marries Anne. However when Maurice is invited to visit Clive, he drawn toward his friend’s servant, Alec Scudder.
There are three actors that are outstanding in this production and will be a prominent force in the future, Tom Joyner as Maurice Hall is an exceptional actor having to convey so many emotions from childhood to adulthood and is virtually onstage throughout – a tour de force of a performance, sadly no programme notes, only that he graduated in the summer of this year from Drama school.
Max Keeble another young actor, excellent in his portrayal of Clive Durham again conveying varying emotions to good effect and Leo Turner as the sexually dynamic Alec Scudder, glimpsed in Act one and comes into his own in Act 2 with the seduction of Maurice. He is an actor who is very photogenic and with such strong presence that one feels will be a revelation on the big screen when it happens – very Jon Snow for those of you who are Game of Thrones fans!
The remaining five actors making up the cast and some playing several roles are all exceptional – a truly well rehearsed, choreographed ensemble. In Act 1 there is a school friend of Clive, Risley played by Tom Elliot Reade who as mentioned when not on stage in his role is used as a scene/prop assistant and subtly has long lingering looks at Maurice as he passes – this was very effective in setting a certain tone of longing early on in the play.
We urge everyone to take the opportunity to go to the new premises of Above the Stag and experience this great production of Maurice, everything is first class down to the programme design – a production worthy of a transfer to the West End!
Directed by James Wilby, star of the 1987 film
Adapted by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham
Designer: David Shields
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir
Casting: Harry Blumenau for Debbie O’Brien Casting
Producer – Peter Bull for Above The Stag Theatre
12 September – 21 October 2018.
Review : Peter Harrington
Peter Harrington, Contributing Editor, is the retired Senior Designer for a leading fashion house which will remain nameless. He’s an avid connoisseur for the finer things in life particularly in all branches of the Arts. Once a habitué of Tangier, he now resides at the wrong end of Kings Road in London with his husband Alessandro and their precious pug Samba.
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