Sand in the Sandwiches at Theatre Royal Haymarket
Hugh Whitemore’s Sand in the Sandwiches, a celebration of the former poet laureate John Betjeman, is flawless in what it sets out to achieve. But what it sets out to achieve may well be flawed.
Edward Fox takes to the stage as an older Sir John Betjeman in this one-man play. The venerable poet proceeds to talk about his life, telling tales of his youth, family, schooling, employment and social circles. Throughout the stories, Betjeman’s poetry is cleverly and quite seamlessly weaved into the dialogue. One moment the character is discussing a memory from his past and the next he launches into an appropriately themed poem.
Edward Fox plays the part phenomenally well, proving he deserves his place among the great British actors of stage and screen. This may not be be his most demanding role to date in terms of delivering raw emotion, but the subtleties that Fox employs throughout to deliver the poet’s wit are marvellous; this show only works as well as it does because of his performance.
Whitemore’s writing is no doubt excellent, capturing and broadcasting the poet laureate’s character beautifully. And Betjeman’s poetry is no doubt brilliant, full of wit and charm and fun. But, at a certain point, this piece just becomes an old man telling old stories. It’s a bit like having someone’s granddad on stage. And no matter how interesting those narratives actually are, no matter how well they are delivered, it’s difficult for anyone of a different generation to really understand and appreciate.
Sand in the Sandwiches is not for everyone. This is more for the older generation who grew up with Betjeman on the BBC, are familiar with the news and affairs of the day and who enjoy a bit of public school humour. It will mostly go over the head of anyone else.
Photo: Geraint Lewis
Sand in the Sandwiches is at Theatre Royal Haymarket from 30th May until 3rd June 2017, before continuing its UK tour. Book your tickets here.
For further information about the tour visit here.