Johnny Come Lately

Directed by John Wright
Unity Theatre
13th-14th November 2012

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Johnny Come Lately was formulated from an idea by Annie Fitzmaurice - a mother and her daughter living in undesirable circumstances, stealing to get by whilst battling mental illness and a stranger at their door. Truthfully this play never really took flight; the basic concept got lost in the direction. What could have been an epic tale of politics, struggle, race and discrimination unfolded to leave a pathetic play that was cringeworthy and uncomfortable to watch.

The Beige Party could have been used to demonstrate the unease and unsatisfied feeling of society as it flounders in the modern world, instead it was a poorly exercised concept, floundering at the hands of Sam Parkes with his character Peter James. Another character ruined by Parkes was Pat, a vulnerable, elderly woman whose plight was made into a mockery by Parkes. His other characters - the mugger and the pest control man - could have been taken out of the play completely as they were both pointless and surplus to requirements.

The only piece of beauty within the play was the small part of contact between the daughter and Emad; with her suffering mental illness and him hardly speaking English, the connection and communication between them was lovely to watch, especially when he gave her new shoes as her old ones were causing her distress. It is true that real emotion transcends language and Amr El-Bayoumi did that beautifully throughout the play. Apart from please and thank you he spoke no English at all, but his despair, desperation and kindness came across through his story being etched on his face.

Overall a very disappointing trip to the theatre. This play just seemed to bumble along with no purpose or definite story. It was hard to follow and even harder to establish the point of the play. This was even more disappointing given the content they already had as their characters had the potential to be beautifully explored.

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