The Greatest Play in the History of the World at Trafalgar Studios
Mixing a narration of the launch of the Voyager space probes with a whimsical, occasionally silly but always sweet love story, The Greatest Play in the History of the World may not be quite that, but it certainly is enjoyable from start to finish. The production is nothing ground-breaking; it’s rather tame, at times, but through it all, the show is just plain pleasant to watch. Everything falls neatly into place, from Raz Shaw’s directing to the acting, from the writing to the sound design: this is a delightfully witty and endearing one-hander.
The plot – written by Ian Kerhsaw – tells the love story of Tom and Sara, neighbours who have hardly ever spoken a word until one fateful morning when Tom wakes up to realise that time has stood still at 4.40am. The elderly couple next door, meanwhile, hatches a plan to ensure that Tom and Sara not only meet, but fall in love. The tale is told by a nameless narrator (Julie Hesmondhalgh), who uses shoes – both on stage and from various members of the audience – to represent the individual characters.
It’s not particularly special or surprising, but it’s in the detail of the narrative where the writing shines. One witty line follows another, creating a hilarious monologue with several highlights throughout. While one can take issue with the plot, the prose itself is spectacularly well done, with a very high standard and superb sense of humour. Hesmondhalgh’s delivery of the monologue is entirely endearing; her soft voice matches the narrative perfectly, whether it’s in one of the more whimsical or sweet moments.
The Greatest Play maintains this standard of writing throughout most of the production, although it does lose slight momentum towards the end of the narrative, when it feels the necessity of hammering home the moral of the story – embracing love and recognising the best humanity has to offer – in a way which doesn’t quite feel deserved.
This is such a tiny thing, however, and everything else is executed so well, that this show receives an easy recommendation. It may not be the most novel of plays with the most exciting of storylines, but it is highly entertaining and it does remind us of some of the good that still exists in this world.
Photo: Savannah Photographic
The Greatest Play in the History of the World is at Trafalgar Studios from 28th November until 4th January 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for The Greatest Play in the History of the World here: