Nottingham Lace Market theatre
For Services Rendered is a play by Somerset Maughan. First performed in London in 1932, The play is (apparantly) about the effects of World War I on an English family.The anti-war message was not popular with audiences back then, and the play only ran for 78 performances, which shows that audiences in 1932 probably found the play as entertaining as I did.
I always say that a play has to leave you feeling some kind of emotion by the end, but I'm sorry to say that this play left me feeling nothing but confused. Is confusion an emotion?
The effects from World War 1 was just a minor thread, and I would not have said that this theme was in any way major, more so was the mental state of the middle class Ardsley family. I couldn't really warm to any of Maughan's characters apart from Sydney, the blind son whose wartime service was cut short due to his being blinded in action. Sydney, played by Chris Sims, had some wonderfully cutting lines to deliver. The Downton Dame Maggie of this play and this certainly lifted the slightly depressing feel.
Depressing? Yes There is suicide, unfaithfulness, deceit, greed. Oh my God Thanks to Sydney for the light humour! I'm sorry I just could not get excited about this even though the set was wonderful (I want a living room like theirs complete with the French doors) and the actors really did do their best with what I thought was a pretty drab script. There was one section though where one of the actors broke the fourth wall several times, which was out of character with all of the other characters in the play and raised the play to panto level. Something that should have been picked up maybe in rehearsal by the director.
I also didn't understand the rapid turn of emotions of Eva as one minute she was distraught beyond emotion over the death of one of the characters, and was carted off to her room inconsolable, and the next minute she had got changed and was doing her best impression of a looney with visions of dead people coming back to announce wedding plans. Where was the gradual build up?
I hate to be negative in my reviews but for me, honesty is the key, and these are my own personal views. I just thought that the play was not a strong one and one that should not have been picked at all.The actors performed well, gave their all and looked like they were well into the eccentricities of their characters, but it just was not for me I'm afraid. Go make your own mind up though!
"For Services Rendered" is on at the Nottingham Lace Market theatre until Saturday 11 October 2014