Days of Wine and Roses at Trafalgar StudiosCultureTheatre
Despite the charmingly deceptive name that elicits chinking glasses and merry picnics, Days of Wine and Roses packs a mean punch. It’s 1962, Dolan and Mona meet each other for the first time at Belfast airport, where both are waiting for a plane to jet them off to a new life in London. The pair are quickly consumed by the bright lights and fast opportunities of Britain’s capital, hastily falling in love and cementing each other’s hazy happiness. But if that all sounds sweetly sickening, things turn throat scorchingly sour pretty quickly.
Adapted from a film of the same name, this is an achingly electric, emotively charged play, where the mood and the scene changes as quick as you can swallow a drink. But not for one second is any line, gesture or emotion undervalued or overstated. The writing and the execution is incredibly convincing. Actors Patrick Tolan and Nicola Taggart handle themselves with such ease that even the awkwardness of Trafalgar Studios’s raw, echoey acoustics is eliminated. Vivacious charisma is conveyed through rapid and bouncy elocution, setting a confident and amusing tone. But their mannerisms soon take on a raw tenderness born from the vulnerability of alcoholism, and the contortions of facial expression and glints of passion in the eyes that follow are mesmerising to watch.
The chemistry between the two is such that it’s almost as if Tolan and Taggart are just messing around and play acting together, performing to each other rather than to an audience. It creates an incredibly intimate effect, bringing something so shamefully hidden in the world around us to a real and tangible presence. The story may be typical – easy – but it’s timeless humanity and the endearing authenticity of the entire execution makes for an incredibly captivating performance. And even without that, it’s a beautiful ode to Westminster Bridge – with it’s views of bright lights and deep-rooted majesty.
Days of Wine and Roses is at Trafalgar Studios until 11th October 2014, for further information or to book visit here.