Just Because It’s Catherine Tate, It Must Be Funny?? August 25, 2008Posted by CamdenKiwi in : Reviews , trackback
A brash slapper, Catherine Tate in Under the Blue Sky, has come back to his place and they’re getting down to it. He is a little premature and, given the amount of alcohol involved, the evening is over. She regales him with tales of former lovers and his own general inadequacy. Their relationship was ever thus, his unhealthy obsession fed by her stringing him along with contempt. He has compromising photos of her, threatens her and forces himself on her. The dialogue is witty, chuckle-provoking at first, but this is not a scene to provoke the hilarity found by some members of the audience. It’s uncomfortable, a slice of an unpleasant side of life. Although there are shades of her trademark chavs, the comedy here is very black indeed.
This is the second of the three vignettes of love between teachers which make up Under the Blue Sky. Life in the staffroom is fraught with unrequited lusts and misunderstandings. In the first Helen (Lisa Dillon) is in love with commitment-phobe Nick (Chris O’Dowd). He ‘values their friendship’, she can’t let him go. She’s the sort of woman who, if you know her, you just have to sit there waiting for the train crash and pick up the pieces.
The third is the only one which sorts itself out well. Francesca Annis does a poignant turn as Anna, the teacher in her fifties in love with her thirty-something friend. Angst at the age gap is overcome, and the audience gets to leave on a happy ending.
I went for the names – Catherine Tate and Francesca Annis – and they justify the hype. Tate’s very physical acting as she morphs from desire to disgust to fear seems over the top on the small screen, but from 50 metres in the stalls, is gripping.
Under the Blue Sky is at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 20 September. For 90 minutes with no interval, its probably not worth the silly West End ticket prices (£47.50 for a good seat – ouch) but get 50% standby tickets from the TKTS booth in Leicester Square.