‘A Day in The Death of Joe Egg’ is the latest production at the “thriving little theatre” that is ‘The Archway’ in Horley. The play is resurgent after the recent death of its playwright, Peter Nichols. The Archway adaptation is directed by Joe Booton who does a terrific job.
The plot revolves around Bry and Sheila, and their son, Joe. Joe has Cerebral Palsy, he cannot speak and this makes for an interesting and dark comedic narrative.
Sheila and Bry find difficulty in having serious conversations about their relationship. Instead, they speak through Joe, the ‘egg’ or ‘vegetable’ of the family.
Bry and Sheila imagine Joe as having multiple personalities with a multitude of moral codes. The dialogue duly portrays the black humour that drives the play, however, it also showcases the pain behind such comedy.
Bry and Sheila imagine Joe in his many personas, offering an insight into their yearning for a more active life with their son,. In reality, their lives are centred in the living room. The director uses the singular setting beautifully to add to sense of frustration and claustrophobia.
The production at The Archway balances sarcasm with the underlying distress that Bry and Sheila try to mask. Bry hides his pain with humour and Shelia through her many, many pets. There are several insightful monologues and the intimate setting allows you to be drawn in as though you’re really sitting there in Sheila and Bry’s home.
There is a clear contrast between perceptions of disability in the ’60s, versus today. That being said the character of Bry is purposefully facetious. His dry and witty sense of humour is mixed with a sense of desperation, allowing you to sympathise with him whilst also contemplating how you would deal with his family’s situation.
‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’ is a frank portrayal of the difficulties of life and the different perspectives that amalgamate. The cast gives it their all and the play ends on the 5th of October, so get your tickets now!
REVIEW BY HANNAH ROBERTS