Five-star performance in a three-star play. In
Come for Skilbeck. Her Eleanor’s got moxie and a clear head; two things you both need when facing tragedy.
Alison Skilbeck, writer and performer, takes a phenomenal turn as Eleanor. You’d be hard-pressed to see better control in an actor. She should be good; after all; she’s a RADA teacher, and one who’s offering a masterclass through her performance. Finesse, power and a zigzag among many characters; it’s all here. There’s a reason you hear the audience “Bravo!” at the curtain call.
However, and it’s a sad thing to admit, Skilbeck’s writing doesn’t quite match her acting. The script’s well-researched, and she’s got some of the dramaturgy down pat, but the play is unruly in places. It’s framed as a recollection by Eleanor in her dying Cold War days. That’s strong: there’s a wistful sense that after her good deeds during and after the war, like overseeing the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the impending doom promised by MAD and the competing superpowers reduced her efforts to nothing. This is undeveloped, though, and there are too many references to FDR’s campaign which don’t aid the understanding of her tour. Most of all, the piece doesn’t build in any discernible form, leaving each leg of her journey a similar experience.
Come for Skilbeck. Her Eleanor’s got moxie and a clear head; two things you both need when facing tragedy. A so-so script, but who cares? She’s a sell-out performer and has got my eyes peeled for her next work.