Robert Tanitch reviews German Skerries at Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Surrey
Robert Holman’s plays are about life as it is lived by ordinary people. German Skerries was last seen nearly 40 years ago.
A young married couple come face to face with ambition, marriage (on the rocks?) and death. The setting is a nature reserve in Teeside in 1976.
The natural and urban landscape, not seen, except through the characters’ binoculars and telescopes, is important. The skerries are treacherous rocks, a sanctuary for cormorants and in serious danger of industrial pollution.
Holman has said that his play is about the desire to move on and do better. The young man, a birdwatcher (George Evans) is cleverer than he thinks he is. He just needs his wife (Katie Moore) to give him confidence and make him take some O levels – if he really wants promotion at work, that is.
German Skerries, lyrical and understated, is so very subtle that there is almost nothing there; or at least not enough to fully engage an audience.
The play, very nicely acted in this revival by Alice Hamilton, lasts 1 hour and 25 minutes with no interval. Following its run at Richmond it will tour to Reading, Scarborough, Lancaster and Hull.