Monday, 10 January 2011

"Nuts in May" and "Way Upstream"

A hunt through the last of our video tapes leads us to a tape containing three plays from the 70s and 80s. Abigail's Party is being kept for next weekend - so this weekend it was Nuts in May and Way Upstream.

Linda had seen Nuts in May before but it had passed me by. And what an oddity. Alison Steadman was barely recognizable as one half of the two "nuts", a very odd couple on a camping holiday in Devon. Little actually happens of course. They visit a castle, the coast, and a quarry where they see fossilised dinosaur footprints. They have some interaction with a PE teacher and a couple from Birmingham. And things get gradually out of hand - mainly through the acts of the husband.

I was particularly taken by the featured songs - especially Alison Steadman's protest-folk song at the very end.

Alison Steadman as Candice Marie, with husband Keith

Way Upstream
was the tv adaption of an Alan Ayckbourn play and dates from the late 1980s. I saw a small mention of it in the Oxford Times last year in a piece about Newbridge - as it was filmed on the Thames there and the two pubs feature briefly.

This is a very different thing altogether than Nuts in May. I am not really very up on literary criticism and tend to take rather naive, face-value views on such things, but even I can tell that this play is about power. The "action" features two couples who have booked a boating holiday together. The two men work together and may be partners or directors in a firm. One is clearly the "dominant male" whose wife largely holds him in contempt. The other male is weak and submissive - or as his wife says, "soft"

The dominant male has appointed himself captain of the boat, but his position is undermined by another male who they meet while trying to navigate a lock. This new male gradually takes over the running of the boat, especially when the previous captain is called back to work.

I was particularly taken with the wife of the captain. She really dislikes her husband and is clearly very attracted to the stranger. But things take a gradual turn for the worse and the roles gradually change, so that the meak couple come to the fore.

The captain's wife, eager to please the stranger who has taken over

The hidden side of the captain's wife - during a night drinking when the captain is absent

Enduring some "naval discipline" from the stranger

We are both looking forward to Abigail's Party - scheduled for Saturday night

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