The Day I Stood Still

Saturday, 7 February, 1998

The playwright has again chosen a gay theme.

The story concerns Horace, a gay man who allows his obsessive love for his old school chum Jerry, a heterosexual, to dominate his life. The story swings back and forth through his life to recall the unhappy and painful moments. Briefly, the story starts with Horace in his 30s, lonely and not socialising. He has arranged for a rent boy, Terrence, to call, as he has finally decided to have sex again, after a long period of abstinence! However, the unexpected arrival of Jerry's widow, who is also an old friend, causes alarm for Horace who does not want her to know that he has a rent boy calling. The story then goes forward 13 years with the arrival to the flat of his godson, Jimi, who is the 17-year-old son of Jerry. Jimi is the image of his late father, and Horace finds himself attracted to him. However, Jimi is unaware of this, and is himself distraught as he confesses that his boyfriend has dumped him. Finally the story moves back in time to the sixties. Here, Horace reveals his love to Jerry, but Jerry is unable to return the same kind of love. And to make matters worse, Jerry introduces his new girlfriend, Judy, to him!

Kevin Elyot has built into the play scenes which reveal their meaning as the play develops, such as Horace's obsessive eating of mars bars, the loss of a necklace, the broken chair leg, and the answer to where the rent boy had recognised Horace from somewhere before.

The biggest strength of he play is the acting. Adrian Scarborough is simply wonderful as 'Horace'. He captures the sad, tormented and painful life of 'Horace' perfectly. His comic timing is a joy, with a facial expression that can relate his moods and thoughts brilliantly. Callum Dixon as the younger 'Horace' also puts in a convincing and touching performance. Oliver Milburn convincingly plays both the parts of Jerry and Jimi. He is also quite good at erotic poses, if you see the play you'll know what I mean! Catherine Russell as the dominant older Judy, and Daisy Beaumont as ' the hippie outrageous younger Judy, both perform adequately. Jake Wood as Terence, is great playing the weird rent boy, who seems to have more problems than Horace does! Joseph Swash is convincing as the younger 'Terence', a young boy who tries to mug Horace and then offer sexual services for money. One must not forget the last cast member, Geoffrey Church, the new French boyfriend of Judy's, who loves cooking, which as revealed later in the play, becomes his downfall!

The play has received favourable notices from the popular press. NICHOLAS DE JONGH of the EVENING STANDARD says " Ian Rickson's superlatively cast production imposes just the right air of dreamy strangeness". BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD was disappointed with the play, saying that Elyot had unintentionally explored the same theme as 'My night With Reg', but he still thought the play was "Witty" and "Splendidly acted". KATE STRATTEN of TIME OUT says, " It's an evening of distinctly qualified pleasures". BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES describes it as "A most appealing play" and PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE describes it has "Richly satisfying".

The set by Mark Thompson is interesting. It is Horace's flat, and has only two chairs, a piano, a table and record player in it, with all the walls bare and dark. The scene remains almost identical, except the revolving of the door and balcony at each of the three periods of Horace's life, which is a reflection of 'The day (I) Horace Stood Still'.

(Darren Dalglish)

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