Most people have toyed with the idea of walking away from their everyday life at one point or another. It’s a interesting subject for a play and in John Godber’s two hander, Losing The Plot art teacher Jack Monroe does just that without warning for three months, leaving his wife and teenage children to manage alone. It is billed as a comedy with cartoon characters on the poster but along with the laughs there is serious discussion about art and its place in everyday life, triggered by the fact that Jack’s wife finds a new way forward after his disappearance by writing a popular novel.
Steve Hulson and Susan Cookson have a nice rapport on stage as Jack and Sally and there is some heartfelt acting but I felt that at times they were rather better than the material deserved. I never quite believed in Jack and that certainly wasn’t down to Steve Hulson’s performance. The play gets off to a slow start in the first half and the tone of the script is uneven, it is neither the broad comedy nor the exploration of middle class angst that it could have been. It needs to be either funnier or more truthful, ideally both, but only a great play really manages to pull that off. I wonder if John Godber is looking for a new way forward in his writing and hasn’t quite found it yet? He has written a lot of fine work over the years, much of it funnier or more moving and certainly more theatrical than this play. We spent far too much time watching a single character in a room talking on a mobile phone and the fact that the couple had two teenage children was mostly left unaddressed.
A disappointing play given the best chance it could possibly get by a talented cast and a fine realistic and detailed set.