Home » London Theatre Reviews » Remembrance Monday at Seven Dials Playhouse | Review

Remembrance Monday at Seven Dials Playhouse | Review

Michael Batten was inspired to write this wonderful new play by his grandparents’ celebrating their seventieth wedding anniversary – not just because they had been together from World War Two to Joe Biden but also because of their shared memories, and those same memories that were remembered differently by each of them, even though they had been experienced together. The play looks at how memories change our identity, how they serve as a “golden treasure chest” and what happens if they are no longer solid ground but quicksand.

Remembrance Monday. Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers. Photo by Danny Kaan.
Remembrance Monday. Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Julius (Nick Hayes) and Connor (Matthew Stathers) have the picture-perfect life: ideal husbands, flawless apartment, successful careers… What happens when the reality and complications of the real world warp that idyllic life is the theme of this beautifully written piece of theatre.

A life-changing Monday night begins to haunt Julius, who does seem to spend a great deal of time in the bath! This well-structured play has everything – it is very funny, poignant, serious, romantic, and at times quite shocking, mainly because there comes a time when we suddenly realise what the play is really about, and that seems so very sad, so unfair… yet that happens to so many people. Above all the writing and the people involved are very believable and we quickly find ourselves caring what happens to them as if they were our friends.

Hayes is very natural as Julius, especially in his ability to inhabit the age of the character backwards and forwards over time. We feel his anguish and pain, powerless to do anything. Physically he is very agile and inhabits every facet of ever-needy Julius, hanging on to love by his fingertips.

Stathers is equally good – the two work seamlessly together and totally believable as a married couple. They know so much about each other, the negatives as well as the positives. Whereas Hayes is onstage as Julius all the time, Stathers also briefly plays other roles, each of which is perfect, and never over or underwritten.

The director is Alan Souza. He completely understands the play and his actors, giving the piece light and shade, allowing the darker moments to register with the audience, and then ensuring that the actors pick up the pace again. Lighting (Jack Weir) is also an integral part of this production and neither director nor lighting designer is afraid to use blackness to create atmosphere as well as light to establish mood, for example, the imaginative ways in which the ever-present bath is lit.

The set design by Andrew Exeter and sound design by Sarah Welton also greatly aid the creation of atmosphere and Renzo Allen’s costumes are cunningly hidden to seemingly magically appear as required.

It is difficult to say any more about this life-affirming play without giving away any more of Remembrance Monday‘s secrets. Just go and see it for yourselves – I feel so lucky to have seen it!

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

Julius and Connor, model husbands, have it all; the apartment, the careers, the bodies… all that’s
missing is the cliché dog.

But when flickering moments and distorted memories trap Julius in the replay of a singular Monday night, reality bends, leading them both into the haunting grip of some terrifying truths.

Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers
star in the world premiere of
Remembrance Monday
by Michael Batten
Directed by Alan Souza

Seven Dials Playhouse
1A Tower St,
London WC2H 9NP
23 April – 1 June 2024
https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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