David Farr’s Elton John’s Glasses is more than a comedy about football; it attempts to deal with deep relationships, ageing and coping with failure. However, at times the magnitude of the plot felt farfetched, underdeveloped and fast paced developments felt rushed and overlooked. Directed by Jason Wrightam, Andrew Nash delivered what can only be described as a glimmer of light in a cast that seemed out of their depth, with a script that attempted to tackle too much.
Set in my hometown of Watford, Bill is the key protagonist who has developed agoraphobia after his younger brother, Dan, left to chase his dream of becoming a rock star with his band ‘Goldilox’ six years previous. Following a slow start, Bill describes his pain at Watford’s 1984 FA Cup Final defeat to Everton; his story being that it was in fact Elton John’s glasses that blinded Watford goalkeeper Steve Sherwood into an error for Everton’s match winning goal. Despite this slow start, the increase in pace becomes overpowering, and it is hard to believe that the events that unravel occur in what must only be five or six hours on a Saturday afternoon.
On this note, the plot unravels into an endless realm of implausibility’s. Bill watches the FA Cup Final footage on loop, in a totally unfurnished house other than a basement shrine to Watford FC. His emotion for that day has led him to never leaving the house for six years. Nevertheless, Bill’s six years of solitude are conveniently overcome by Dan’s arrival; simply put Dan asks ‘why not go outside?’ With his agoraphobia seemingly cured, Bill’s character and story untwine into further chaos and coincidence, with endless twists. So much happens in so little time that the audience forget what the actual plot is; many events occur as seemingly separate entities and are only brought together in a rather botched ending that leaves a feeling of disconnection to the protagonist.
The result is not one of intrigue and enticement, but sub-plot after sub-plot leaves an elusive web of confusion whereby no main plot comes to fruition. That said, as Shaun, Nash provided injections of well timed one-liners and coped well with the more serious critique of his characters psyche. Chris Teasdale (Bill) and Chris Reed (Dan) fail to convey the poignant moments with sincerity, though hold their own in the comical scenes. Richard Minkley delivers Tim’s character with confidence and combined with Nash they deliver refreshing laughs to break up the tangled plot. Romy Fletcher is self-assured in her role as Amy and delivers well in her scene, though Emma Carlton struggled with the character of Julie. Perhaps constrained by her sensationalised and mostly ridiculous and unbelievable character, Carlton looked out of her depth.
Elton John’s Glasses requires an open mind and an appreciation that the plot is outrageous. There are laughs to be had, however, the performance fails to deliver on the more serious themes Farr attempts to deal with in the script. The actors’ performances deliver comedy at times but fall way short in dealing with the plot, leaving little substance and little sympathy for characters that have clearly suffered a great deal.
All images: Mark James
Elton John’s Glasses runs at The Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 2nd March. For tickets go to http://www.lacemarkettheatre.co.uk