REVIEW: STAIRCASE (Southwark Playhouse)

1960s London, in a back-street Barber shop sit Harry and Charlie. Together for twenty years, they bitch and moan to each other, about each other. They are both dealing with life altering situations – Charlie was arrested for cross dressing in public and is waiting to hear if he has to go to court, and Harry has lost all of his hair and worries people won’t trust a bald barber if he couldn’t keep his own hair. Over cups of tea, battenburg cake and gin, the two lament over their life of hidden homosexuality and blame each other for their downfalls – never taking responsibility for themselves.

The characters are portrayed wonderfully by Paul Rider (Harry) and John Sackville (Charlie). Paul Rider playing Harry as a bitter old queen and John Sackville showing Charlie as self entitled and unappreciative. The problem is that the characters are both so unlikable with not a single good trait between them. They show no love or affection for each other apart from making a cup of tea here and there and it is hard to see why they have stayed together for so long.

The ending is odd, suggesting that the audience make up their minds about what happened but after thinking it over for a few hours, I actually think it is clear and explains why the characters were so unlovable, to the audience and to themselves.

Staircase is somewhat confusing but thoroughly enjoyable with great performances.

★★★★

Reviewed by West End Wilma