Riley is a failed inventor who can’t see that his professional life
is a sham. His family, however, can; and he is a character at once
comic and desperate as a result. As the cast of ‘Enter a Free Man’
warmed up, gaining emotional momentum and dramatic coherence as
a group, this disparity was brought out well.
was mainly thanks to the often excellent supporting cast. Poppy
Burton-Morgan was especially good as George’s long-suffering but
stiflingly anally retentive wife, Persephone. [George: Her name’s
Constance…but I never knew anyone called Persephone. Comic sidekick,
Able: Doesn’t she mind? George: She never knew…] George and his
family all deceive themselves in one way or another, trying to ignore
the oppressive repetition that fills their days.
set played up the feeling of 60s malaise in a well-observed manner,
complete with beige/dun wallpaper and tacky ornaments. Yet George
himself was underplayed, with too much emphasis on the comic side
and not enough attention paid to the misery inherent in his character’s
early Tom Stoppard play was always going to be a hard one to pull
off. The cast did well as a whole, and, with a little more time
to relax into the run, the well-timed jokes will be delivered with
even more success. Yet if the lead, Andrew Hollingbury, had had
slightly more emotional colouring, this could have been an excellent
production. It was entertaining and increasingly credible as a piece
of theatre; ultimately, though, it lacked the vital combination
of a light dramatic touch with involved emotional delivery.
views expressed in these comments are those of the contributor's
and not the BBC.