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For Reasons That Remain Unclear by Mart Crowley | King’s Head Theatre

For Reasons That Remain Unclear - Credit Alex Brenner
For Reasons That Remain Unclear – Credit Alex Brenner

This has to be one of the most contrived storylines for a play receiving its UK premiere for some years. At the heart of For Reasons That Remain Unclear are Patrick (Simon Haines), a screenwriter staying in luxury accommodation, apparently at the expense of Warner Brothers, and Conrad (Cory Peterson), a Roman Catholic priest. Both are staying in Rome. As I understand it, they met by chance at a restaurant – presumably, they couldn’t help overhearing one another’s American accents. Patrick went to a Catholic school in the same area, where, as it turns out, Conrad once worked as a teacher. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together, even if there are plot twists that question whether the show really will become another revelation of highly inappropriate (and criminal) conduct.

Marco (Daniele Alan-Carter) provides some light relief from this increasingly dark play simply by providing room service, largely in Italian, though (luckily for the audience) he also has a working knowledge of English. Use of the double entendre in the first half of the play give the show further amusement, though not every punchline lands. Overall, it’s a like a church sermon that goes on too long – not because of its actual length (the play is short enough to justify running straight through without an interval), but because it is unwieldy, talking about a large variety of topics and themes, when a more focused but more in-depth consideration of fewer subjects may have resulted in increased engagement.

Something isn’t quite right from the opening lines, which sees Conrad impressed by the grandeur of Patrick’s employer-funded accommodation, perhaps a human response but nonetheless a rather un-Catholic one. When Conrad smokes and starts knocking back drinks, there’s something to be said about Patrick’s remarks on the assumptions people make when they see Conrad’s clerical collar. It’s clear standards of holiness and humility don’t apply to this particular priest.

The production does have some positives. Set in one room over the course of one evening, the script isn’t divided into scenes at all: just one long and continuous one. The cast do well with what they’re given, and it takes some skill to make everyday tasks and topics of conversation seem fascinating. At one point, we see Patrick neatly folding pressed shirts and putting them in a suitcase – there may or may not be a metaphor there about putting things (such as ‘the past’) away because a new journey begins tomorrow.

There are no neat conclusions, and when Patrick locks the door, it’s as though the audience is either treated or subjected to warring parties caged up in a room, with no chance to escape until their differences have been resolved. The set is suitably elegant – as for the dialogue, in retrospect, it felt like a boxing match, with both men almost dancing around waiting for the other to strike the first blow. Only then does the show become something approaching mesmerising. But it’s a long wait, especially for a one-act play, before it goes into overdrive. It’s like a late-running train that then skips intermediate stations in order to make up for lost time. Good acting, though.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Comaweng

With humour, sensitivity and unremitting honesty, For Reasons That Remain Unclear examines complex questions of forgiveness and abuses of power following a chance meeting between Patrick, a Hollywood screenwriter, and Conrad, an older Catholic priest.

Set in a hotel room overlooking the Piazza De Spagna in 1990’s Rome, the play charts their tense, frank exchange over the course of one evening, as it becomes clear that at least one of them is holding back a confession.

King’s Head Theatre presents the UK premiere of
A play by Mart Crowley I Directed by Jessica Lazar
King’s Head Theatre WEDNESDAY 25 JULY – SATURDAY 18 AUGUST 2018


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