4,000 Days at the Park TheatreCultureTheatre
It’s the staple of soap operas and medical dramas everywhere: the character that miraculously wakes from a coma with no idea who they are or what they’ve been through; it’s also the basis of Peter Quilter’s latest play.
Amateur artist turned insurance salesman, Michael (Alistair McGowan) awakens from his three-week long coma to find that the past decade of his life is missing from his memory, a decade that includes current partner, Paul (Daniel Weyman). This suits Michael’s mother, Carol (Maggie Ollerenshaw), just fine, as it presents an opportunity for her to once again become the most important figure in her son’s life.
Unfolding entirely in Michael’s hospital room, the result is a witty, heartfelt drama that provides more than enough warmth to chase away the winter chill. The performances are absorbing: Ollerenshaw excels in her role as the mother-in-law from hell and, though McGowan never has a sense of physical frailty about him, he does lend a certain vulnerability to the role. The set (designed by Rebecca Brower) is simple yet gorgeous, and the use of music throughout the play and during the transitions is excellent. However, 4,000 Days is not without its problems.
Though a lot of interesting points are made through the characters’ interactions with each other (the idea of a second chance, the importance of creativity, the importance of thinking deeply about one’s relationships), the play seems to rely on them more than on actual character development. Both Carol and Michael read like flimsy stereotypes and only Paul has any real depth, though with such a short amount of time to work with and such hefty themes to explore, perhaps that is to be expected.
Although it’s certainly not perfect, 4,000 Days is entertaining and at times heart wrenching. It’s well worth a watch.
Photo: Rory Lindsay
4,000 Days is on at the Park Theatre from 14th January until 13th February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.