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Review: Killing Time, at Park Theatre 90

Brigit Forsyth is star turn in bittersweet exploration of death, loneliness and music

16 February, 2017 — By Lucy Popescu

Brigit Forsyth in Killing Time. Photo: Darren Bell

BRIGIT Forsyth (who some may remember as Thelma from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?) and her daughter, debut playwright Zoe Mills, star in this bittersweet comedy exploring death, loneliness and the healing power of music.

Hester (Forsyth) has terminal cancer. She’s killing time at home, watching daytime TV, playing her beloved cello, numbing herself with Rioja and skyping her only friend, George (Robin Herford).

A suitably tousled Hester is visited by an outspoken, young social worker Sara (Mills) and they strike up an unlikely friendship. While attempting to keep Hester positive and stocked up in wine, Sara reveals her own insecurities and a dubious past.

Antony Eden offers brisk direction and the pace never flags. Designer Paul Colwell’s litters the revolve set with cardboard boxes, underlining Hester’s transient existence, while Skype calls, home videos and photographs are projected onto cardboard walls.

Mills’ script has plenty of promise and she demonstrates remarkable maturity in her depiction of Hester’s response to her illness: a fortitude tinged with fear; a devil-may-care attitude punctuated by moments of genuine sadness; and glimpses of her former lust for life as she rages at the world.

Sara, however, feels sketchily drawn and her motivations are less convincing. Mills finds humour in unexpected places. There is a lovely scene where Hester discovers that her obituary has already been written and is scandalised to learn that she’s remembered for a passionate affair rather than her career as a musician.

Fortunately, Forsyth’s star turn ensures Hester, a memorable creation, stays with us long after the final curtain call.

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