Ionescu’s Chairs at Camden Fringe
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 28th August, 2011
There is so much good theatre going on in London, both in and outside the West End, that I sadly miss many things I really would like to have seen, being too busy with writing, lecturing, politics and travel. But I was really pleased today to be winkled out of my Summer Bank Holiday home retreat to see an old friend from Brussels, Alison Sandford, performing with David Brett in Eugene Ionescu’s ‘The Chairs’ in an Atelier Community Theatre production at The Etcetera Theatre above the Oxford Arms pub in Camden High Street. Today is the last day of the Camden Fringe, four weeks of performances of many kinds that have taken place around the borough. I think the last time I saw the play (in its original French) was at school, when I was doing French A-level. To be honest, I remembered almost nothing about it; as with all Ionescu’s absurdist writing, not much happens and people seem to be living in their own mad little worlds, to a grimly hilarious effect. Sandford and Brett are perfectly paired in this fine production by Vasile Nedelcu. Sandford’s old woman is motherly, but also childlike, and one gets flashes of suppressed lust hiding somewhere under her copious petticoats. David Brett is superb as the little old man who has achieved very little in life but lives with his illusions and inflated memories. The translation by Donald Watson is first rate. I do hope the production will be shown elsewhere so more people can have a really enjoyable experience.