The Spruce Goose
Genesis Cinema, London
IT’S a common mantra often rolled out that in theatre, there is no place to hide. Despite all the undeniably hard work that goes into staging a production, if one aspect goes awry then it is there for all and sundry to see.
Such fate befalls The Spruce Goose, an original production from emerging London-based writer and director NCube that is let down by an underdeveloped script.
Staged at East London’s independent and hip Genesis Cinema, the production takes its title from Howard Hughes’ much derided aircraft and is set in 1947, the year Hughes’ plane made its first and only flight.
Again in a nod to Hughes, the play deals with the confrontation between a Hollywood movie director and the studio executives following the screening of his latest work.
Dealing with themes of racism and the battle between art and commerce, the work was inspired as a musing on what might have been said during the great Hollywood rifts, such as those involving Clooney versus Soderbergh; M Night Shymalan versus Disney; or Welles versus RKO.
An interesting proposition, 28-year-old NCube’s script, however, would have benefited from a tighter edit. The first hour of the two-hour play (with an interval) is, at times, unbearably dull as NCube seeks to frame the action that is almost exclusive to the second part of the play.
Throughout, eight actors grace the stage (among them second-generation Irish actress Monique Geraghty) and at least half of them have little to say or do. NCube might have been better to sacrifice the ensemble cast and concentrate his script on at least half that number.
When the action does erupt in the second section, the play picks up and there are some fine lines delivered by a cast that can’t be faulted for their enthusiasm. Praise too should be directed at the musical accompaniment who do much to set the scene.
In all, The Spruce Goose is an amateur production from a cast and creative talent still finding their feet. Let’s hope they devote their time to better work in future.