Reviewed by Paul Rodda
Out in the Open by Jonathan Harvey is the universal tale of relationships, love, loss and lies. The story centers on Tony, a middle aged man who lives with his mate Kevin. Tony has recently lost his long time love, Frankie in a freak accident, and with the support and love of his Mother-in-law Mary and friends, is trying to get back onto the dating scene 6 months after the incident.
The setting is Tony’s back yard, and the show opens with the introduction of Iggy, a young man down from Manchester that Tony has met in the bar and brought back to his flat.
Beating at the heart of this play is a question of friendship. What would you say to a good friend, and what would you keep from them? If you thought you were protecting them would it be ok to lie?
The story is played out in a stunning and moving performance by all the actors. The audience is taken on an emotional journey with plenty of crass humour thrown in to keep the subtext light, and remind us that even in the worst of times there is always a funny side, and that you can never be prepared for what life is going to throw at you.
In the lead role Lee Cook is superb. Cook is pragmatic in the role of Tony, and the only character that appears to be remotely normal, holding it all together until the very end. Oliver de Rohan as Iggy is suitably puritanical, until he reveals his true self in a dramatic twist. As mother-in-law Mary, Eleanor Boyd is mesmerizing to watch. Her characterization is faultless, and flows with pure naturalism. Boyd’s, Mary is puerile, but with a heart of gold, a juxtaposition which reveals her insecurities such that the audience can only feel for her circumstances. Alan Crawford as best mate Kevin is secretly in love with Tony. Kevin is irascible and bitchy, and never misses a chance to snap at Monica, played by Deanna Ortuso. Both Ortuso and Crawford give solid performances, demonstrating moments of brilliance amongst an already strong cast lineup. Maxine Grubel as Rose is one of the smaller rolls of the show, but Grubel is not afraid to put her stamp on the few scenes she has. Drunkenly stumbling into her scenes with an air of Kath and Kym she gives a nice characterization.
This production directed by Dave Simms is a credit to Mixed Salad Productions, and one which everyone should see if they get the chance.