“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
Kazuo Ishiguro is a writer who seems to know about everything; each of his books is set in a different place and time, yet each is written with knowledge and expertise and a subtle charm that makes his prose all the more compelling. One of those books that can be read over and over again, each time with a different interpretation, The Remains of the Day has been reimagined in film and theatre countless times.
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper.
It’s not often that you witness a play that grips you before it starts. But a dark stage with imposing windows, flooded with rain piques interest immediately.
Classic stories like Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day are often told countless times; the good ones never grow old. As butler Stevens reflects on his life, we see how his decisions were interpreted by others and the consequences of his actions on his current situation.
In this adaptation by Barney Norris, the dialogue reigns supreme. The acting is sublime, with excellent performances from the cast. Stephen Boxer encapsulates Stevens in manner, tone and movement and Niamh Cusack is perfection personified.
But Director Christopher Hayden’s production is brought to life by the excellent staging. Sophie Cotton’s music is eerily reminisce of a life half forgotten, evoking thought with changing pace as scenes flow. The stage lighting (designed by Mark Howland) also enhances this atmospheric production.
It’s not often there is nothing to fault, but this production is as close to perfect as you can get.
This review was originally written for West End Wilma.