Reviewed by David Smith
St Jude’s Players have come up with a little gem in Rattle of a Simple Man. It is a play firmly fixed in London in the early 1960s. The basic story appears simple. Percy (Andrew Clark) is in London to see a football game and makes a drunken bet with a mate to spend the night with a prostitute, Cyrenne (Bronwyn Ruciak). The rest of the play sees the 42 year old virgin, Percy, vacillating over whether he will indeed make that sexual plunge.
Charles Dyer’s script has some delicious complexities and director Mary-Jane Minear defines them well. The superficially contrasting characters of Cyrenne and Percy are gradually revealed to be similarly, and desperately, lonely. They both carry insecurities which at first cause them to lie about themselves, leading by turns to conflict and cohesion.
Ruciak’s Cyrenne has a certain swagger and although lacking a little in dramatic range, she is at her sensitive and touching best in the powerful monologue in which she explains her reasons for lying about her family and past.
Clark is exceptional in his role. He is completely authentic as the nervous, vulnerable and decent Percy. He establishes a fine balance between pathos and humour, sometimes within the same passage, as with his tragi-comic speech about pimples. His phrasing and timing are impeccable, and he clearly carries the audience with him.
The minor role of Ricard, Cyrenne’s brother, is menacingly portrayed by Sean Flaherty.
The play’s one set is a convincingly run-down, slightly grubby bet-sit. Its well balanced elements provide a variety of focal points for the action, while strongly assisting the mood and sense of the play.
St Jude’s Players have certainly succeeded with this piece of thoughtful and entertaining theatre.