I have to admit I was pretty ignorant of Philip Larkin, I knew he’d refused the Poet Laureate post and died in the mid 1980’s but that was it. This play vividly portrays his life and the three women that played such a key role in it.
Brian Miller played the part of Philip Larkin, and it was an OUTSTANDING performance. He really brought Philip Larkin to life before our eyes, his foibles and his more personable traits. He delivered the witty lines perfectly, and the reading of Larkin’s poetry was very moving and effective. The final dying scene was done really well and despite Larkin’s faults, I felt sad to see him go.
The three female love interests were all ably performed, Jane Monaghan played Larkin’s long-suffering partner Monica Jones, Avril Swift played his uptight Catholic mistress Maeve Brennan, and Denise Scales played his secretary turned lover Betty Mackareth.
My only criticism would actually be Ben Brown’s script. The scenes are very short which means the play feels quite “bitty” especially in Act 1. You just feel you’re getting into it and then the scene would end and we’d have to wait while the cast got changed/scenery changed for the next scene. This was done as speedily as possible by the crew and ably covered by the use of different Jazz tracks that Larkin liked. Act 2 was much better in this respect. The actual scripting and dialogue was excellent, I just feel the chopping and changing of scenes could have been eliminated by Ben Brown.
As I’ve said before I love going to the theatre when I’m not sure of the play and/or subject matter. Again I’ve come away with my horizons expanded, keen to read some more of Larkin’s work and having seen another great performance at The Miller Centre Theatre.