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June 2005
Japes
Japes
Japes

Japes
By Simon Gray
At the Burton Taylor


Wednesday 29th - Thursday 30th June 2005


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Stage

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By Rosie Hetherington

With the strong sweet smells of passive dope smoking, and some irritatingly catchy pop tunes of the past thirty years this is a play to treasure. This eternal triangle of free love goes from strength to strength. Well, from strong emotions to strong language with plenty of dramatic turns and laughs to be had.

Not The National Theatre presents this gentle but sardonic comedy of middle class morality in its first national tour. The brothers concern over the division of their childhood spoils and property, and the tendency to remain nice and civilised despite every provocation marks this out as English humour at its best.

The play is dominated by Daniel Leatherdale's powerful performance as "Michael" the elder, more responsible and successful brother. The Japes of the title is the irresponsible younger brother with all the usual sibling rivalry and struggle to get out from his brothers shadow. Nicholas Prideaux as "Jason" expertly plays this more challenging role of the drunk and recovering alcoholic. Not to be outdone as the sole female in the cast, Sophie Shaw portrays "Anita" and later on, her own daughter "Wendy". She uses a range of emotions that continue to engage the audience throughout this well structured drama.

The cast of three people in this marriage lead us from the heady days of 1973 through the excesses of the eighties and the nineties to 2000. With a simple living room set and changing fashions there is much to admire and reflect on how simple life used to be. But was it better? It also shows that those who don't learn their history are doomed to repeat it.

One night remains so catch it while you can.

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