Theatre review – The Summer House
The stag night, an evening of booze fuelled alpha male antics, punch-ups and one or two items of clothing from a costume cupboard. Thrown in to this recipe for a lads’ night out is a jacuzzi and Bob Dylan on full blast in director John Wright’s quirky production The Summer House at the Gate Theatre. Taken away is the alpha male.
Three men head out to Iceland for a wild stag night, which turns out to be a tad bit wilder than anticipated. The play unashamedly displays an accurate depiction of twenty-first century masculinity through the three protagonists who each have their own insecurities, whether it is receding hairline or worries about married life.
A running motif in the production is a novelty Viking helmet, which ties in with the play’s strange intermissions when the cast switch from twenty-first century men to Vikings on the path to execution. Thor, from Norse mythology, is portrayed as a pompous hammer-wielding creature who struggles to keep his cape in place. The link is quite weak apart from the fact that Norse mythology is associated with Iceland.
There is a balance between cerebral and physical comedy which pokes fun at modern masculinity. Scenes in the jacuzzi bubble with gags and actor Matthew Steer deserves applause for his deadpan expressions in slapstick scenes, reminiscent of legendary comedy director Buster Keaton.
The take on realism in the play adds to its comedic affect. There is even a small model house and car to signify that the men are far away in a remote setting. Steam to represent the jacuzzi adds believability.
Lovers of traditional theatre who are willing to have their palette cleansed may enjoy this piece, while some may prefer to stick to the more conventional theatre.
Book your ticket at the box office here, or phone 020 7229 0706.
Price: £20 / £15 concs
The Summer House is at Gate theatre until 24th March 2012.