Elton John's Glasses
The play concerns Bill, a Watford Football club supporter who has not recovered from his club's defeat in the FA Cup final in 1984. It is now 1996 and all Bill does is repeatedly watch the same video of Watford's defeat and refuses to leave the house. He now never goes to see Watford play, even though he lives right next to the stadium. However, a woman calls around every Saturday afternoon when the match is on and he has sex with her in a bizarre ritual. The rest of the time he is depressed and just sits in a chair in his dingy house, which has barely any furniture. However, things are about to change for him as he receives a visit from his younger brother, Dan, whom he has not seen in years. Dan has arrived with members of his rock band, who have lost all their instruments and their female lead!
This comedy has many twists and turns and is not at all predictable. The first act is pretty dire, with the script a little clumsy and uninspiring, but after the interval the play picks up considerably as the characters are explored more. There are some comic moments, particularly when Bill demands that Tim, one of the band members, take off his glasses because they look like Elton John's glasses. Bill blames Elton John's glasses for Watford losing the FA Cup final, because the sun shining on them dazzled the Watford players! When Tim removes his glasses he cannot see a thing, which results in most of the comic scenes.
Brian Coney, who was last in the West End in the lead of "Jolson" at the Victoria Palace, is superb as 'Bill'. His comic timing and brilliant body language is a joy to watch. He alone keeps this average comedy alive with his genius. Will Keen as "Dan" is funny in parts, but I found him irritating at times and not able to pull off this nervous wreck of a character. There is a fine performance from David Nellist playing the naive 'Tim' and from Gabrielle Glaister as 'Julie', the single mum who visits Bill on match days. The other performers Dawn Bradfield as 'Amy', a 16-year-old Watford fanatic who befriends Bill, and Will Barton as the incompetent ' Shaun' are adequate.
The comedy has received mixed notices from the popular press. NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Terry Johnson's production is beautifully gauged to express both the quirkiness of Farr's deft comedy and the real desolation underlying it." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES says "Football lover or football hater, you should laugh a lot" and CHARLES SPENCER, of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH said, "There isn't a weak performance". However, SHERIDEN MORLEY says "Playwright David Farr seems oddly undecided about what he is writing here" and DAVID LISTER of THE INDEPENDENT says "Not even a Premiership cast can rescue a second-division play."
Elton John's Glasses is not great comedy, but it does have its moments.