‘Visiting Mr Green' by Jeff Baron
SDC Bar Production at The Little Theatre
THIS was a morality play for our times with many facets, religion, sexuality, family relationships, and, perhaps the most important of all, how it illustrates the destructive effects of bigotry.
John Sharp plays the Warren Mitchell role of Mr. Green, an 86 year old New York widower living alone after the death of his wife of 59 years. Into his life comes a young executive, Ross (Kyle Harrison–Pope), who has been ordered by the court to pay him weekly visits as a punishment for having nearly run him over.
Both men are Jewish and both are solitary people but soon a bond grows between them as they share secrets of their lives. However, when Mr. Green suggests Ross finds a nice Jewish girl to marry, Ross confesses he is gay. Mr. Green cannot accept this and pushes him away.
Equally, Ross is horrified when he finds Mr. Green, far from being alone in the world, has a daughter but he has disowned her simply because she has wed outside the Jewish faith.
The dialogue between them starts out as highly amusing, mainly due to Mr. Green’s acerbic retorts, delivered it may be said, with a satisfying panache. But as the play progresses, his loneliness comes to the fore, more secrets are revealed and we see how much unhappiness, not to mention wars, are caused by unnecessary rejection of other people’s beliefs.
Ross finds letters from the daughter, unopened. He reads one and realises she has not even been told her mother has died, simply because she has married a goy. He confronts Mr. Green with the news that he has three grandchildren which leads finally to a tear-jerking, happy ending where Ross has arranged for the daughter to bring her family to her father’s home. The curtain falls as Mr. Green walks to the front door to let them in.
The ultimate success of this classic play is measured by the skill of the two actors on stage and the exceptional performances given here would match any seen onstage in London and New York. Drama school bound, Kyle Harrison-Pope has a great career ahead of him. If all actors had his clear diction there would be no need for radio mikes while John Sharp once again proved himself to be one of the society’s greatest assets.
A compelling drama with lots of humour as well as some very moving moments. A great credit to the company and to director, Michele Martin.
Star Rating 9 out of 10. Two magnificent performances.