Before the Exit Line at the The Horse
May theatre round up - kicking bad theatre in the balls

It's not Jerusalem at the White Bear

The-winterling_thumb Jerusalem is still a painful word to me. It's the play that got away, the one I really wanted to see but wasn't organised enough. I even got up early one bank holiday monday to queue for day seats but to no avail.

I may still get my chance as there are rumours it might come back to the West End after its stint on Broadway (and I'll be ready this time). But in the meantime Stone Junction Productions which specialises in reviving 'entertaining, thought-provoking and human' modern plays is putting on an early Jez Butterworth - The Winterling.

So off I pop to what is my nearest theatre, the lovely bijou White Bear in Kennington and settle on one of their benches with a nice glass of red, ready to be blown away by Butterworth.

Winterling is set in a semi derelict dwelling on Dartmoor where West, a man in a suit, lives alongside a homeless man, Draycott, who sleeps on the porch and a girl called Lue who sleeps upstairs. West invites a former associate from his criminal past, Wally, to visit and Wally brings along his stepson the Patsy whom he seems to be grooming into the ways of the shady underworld.

There is an underlying tension throughout as a psychological display of territory marking commences. The problem with it can best be demonstrated by the conversation that was held with a group of fellow audience members in the lift at Kennington Tube station. It started with one lady asking: "Does anyone know what that was about?" and the answer was uniformly "No". I could hazard a few guesses but if I was to write them down it would spoil the plot for anyone else planning to see it.

There are some great lines and some wonderfully colourful characters - particularly like Draycott whose approach to procuring food/money, he tells us, involves making a scene by behaving oddly (licking the walls for instance) in selected shops until the shop-keeper gives him something to make him go away.

It's not a bad play and the cast do a pretty good job, although I can't help thinking that the level of menace might have been cranked up a notch with slightly more experienced actors. The play was originally performed at the Royal Court with Sally Hawkins and Danny Mays among the cast and there was enough in this production to make me want to see it again sometime in the future.

The Winterling is on at the White Bear until June 12th and I'm giving it three stars. If you've seen it either at the White Bear or the original and can shed any light then leave your thoughts or drop me a line.

Rev Stan wine rating

In lieu of a RS/BW 6DS thought I should do a wine rating as I've been lax with them of late. The White Bear is a normal, everyday pub and as such serves a choice of two whites and two reds from those cute mini bottles you get served on planes and buy in the supermarket under the pretence that it for a recipe.

I'm not sniffy about such things and had a perfectly drinkable Shiraz. It was certainly more drinkable than the vinegar many of the big West End theatres serve out of full size bottles and charge a week's spending money for. So for that it gets four stars.