The Life And Death Of Almost Everybody by David Campton
Performed during 1976
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Reviewed by R.J-D. for The Croydon Advertiser
Presented on Saturday by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon, "The Life and Death of Almost Everybody" by David Campton, is not so much a play as a verbose exercise perambulating through a bevy of platitudes in an endeavour to prove that if Man, and not God, had created Man then the result product would have been very much the same.
We start with a character known simply as the Sweeper. Employed to sweep the theatre stage, his imagination is fired by the virginal canvas it presents to the point when he decides to play God and create Man and Woman for himself. This he successfully does.
All is well until he allows them Free Will (maybe the Almighty made the same mistake). They are then joined by a multitude of characters, some invited, some not, but all justified by the author as "having been lurking in the Sweeper's subconscious and therefore eligible for creation".
The most forceful of them is Aunt Harriet. Shown first as a reliable, guiding and gently organising Aunt, she is, when faith has waned and doubt crept in, adopted as an alternative to God and found to offer a nice line in orgies and a most attractive package deal consisting of the seven deadly sins.
The rest of the play concentrates on the battle for power between the two forces, with the whole of Humanity, it would appear from Mr Campton, existing purely to play a fickle game of follow-my-leader.
Tim Andrews, who directed the play injected it with a tremendous vitality. Moves and groupings were always good, although I would quibble with hislighting plot. I felt that nothing was gained, but much was lost by the playing of some scenes with major characters in silhouette. It jarred too, that the Sweeper's "Worship" soliloquy was addressed to the audience and not the cast.
Stephen Swinscoe was close to perfection in the role of the Sweeper. Indeed my only criticism of this talented actor would be of his tendency to hold the pregnant pause to the point where it becomes a miscarriage.
Rosemary Swinscoe was also excellent as the Young Woman. This was a very intelligent and sincere interpretation.
Sally James gave a strong performance as Aunt Harriet - not quite devious enough perhaps, and a little lacking in light and shade, but a very commendable reading nevertheless.
Of the rest of the cast who were allowed a brief sojourn from the "Greek" chorus to play mionor roles, I partuclarly liked Liz Sutton's interpretation of Avarice, shown here as a Yiddisher Charlie Chaplin, Tim Young's playing of Mr Guide and Lorna Weston as Mrs Broom.
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