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Review: The Night of the Iguana, at Noel Coward Theatre

Clive Owen stars as a tour guide in play that expertly transports the audience to a shabby chic Mexican hotel

18 July, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Clive Owen in The Night of the Iguana. Photo: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

SET during one night at a rain-swept hotel in Mexico, The Night of the Iguana is a meandering exploration of human interaction and the hope, support and compassion that practical strangers can offer each other.

As the disgraced minister Rev T Lawrence Shannon, Clive Owen captures the vulnerability of the alcoholic, womanising lost soul, who is working as a tour guide.

He seems to have concentrated all his efforts on bringing his coach-load of aggrieved tourists to his friend’s rundown hotel and now that he’s arrived he just wants to loll around in a hammock and enjoy a three-day recuperation.

Anna Gunn’s Maxine Faulk is the witty, sassy but jaded hotel owner who seeks to offer shelter to Shannon – preferably in her bed. Oscillating between desperation and determination, Maxine is convinced she knows what’s best for Shannon and her persistence and powers of persuasion are admirable.

Offering alternative emotional guidance to the reverend is Hannah Jelkes (Lia Williams), an artist travelling with her 97-year-old grandfather (Julian Glover).

An intelligent, complex and graceful woman, Shannon, who describes his “emotional bank account” as “overdrawn”, is as enthralled by Hannah’s faded elegance as the audience is.

With an intricate, atmospheric set and authentic sound effects, the audience is expertly transported to the picturesque, shabby chic Mexican hotel where the story unfolds. But, despite the cast’s consistently excellent performances, the three-hour running time is definitely an indulgence too far.

Until September 28
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