10 Mar

My Brother’s Keeper

by Nigel Williams

at the Playground Theatre

This powerful and compelling drama was originally produced at the Greenwich Theatre in the nineteen eighties. It seems as relevant today as it was then. There will always be warring families from biblical times when Cain said ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ This story is set in a bleak almost bare room in a NHS hospital. Just two beds and a stack of blue chairs. In one bed is a still form of Mr Pittorini who has had stroke and is near death. Mr Stone is in the other bed.

It is about irreconcilable differences between two brothers even at the bedside of their dying father, as they each compete for his attention. Mr Stone, the man also suffering from a stroke, is an actor. His sons are at different ends of the personality scale. Tony is ceative, like his actor father, he is a writer and is married to Ella, a girl disapproved of by not only his brother but also his mother who will not accept her nor her grandchildren from the marriage.

Tony (Josh Taylor) wants his father to get well so he can go on working – ‘disabled actors are all the rage’ Tony is a colourful character in Gap style clothing. He says He never knew whether his father was Mr Stone being King Lear or King Lear being Mr Stone.

Samuel, the other son played by David Partridge, is the antithesis of his brother, he is a business man who wears his suit and tie as if he was born in them. Of course he dislikes and despises the life of his brother – they have never been friends. Sam’s wife has just left him, so he has other problems on his mind. He has brought in a book on Psychotherapy which contains his version of a cure.

William Reay plays the male nurse Terry who acts the fool. His idea of a cure is making his patients laugh, even though they seem to pay him no attention at all. Especially Mr Pittorini played by Rick James who never moves a muscle during the whole ninety minutes of the play.

Mr Stone (Andy de la Tour) lies there not wanting to eat just drifting in and out of sleep ‘I listened for a little while and then things got blurred’ as his children squabble ceaselessly.

Mrs Stone (Kathryn Pogson) talks about the 47 years they have been together, she is trying to get her husband to remember. All he wants is to just die quietly.

There is so much content in this play that it is riveting as they all fight violently in the name of keeping the father alive. They all want him to live but towards the end we become aware of yet another thing. A plea from Mr Stone just to stop trying to feed him, keep him awake, do exercises, just to let him die peacefully and quietly.

His wife and sons are fighting to live in their own way, he wants the right to die in his own way.

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