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David Porter » Reviews » 84 Charing Cross Road

84 Charing Cross Road

Open Space Theatre
at The Cut, Halesworth

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times, 8th March 2010


Eagerly embracing more challenge, Open Space Theatre take on a play based on a twenty year exchange of letters, between a rising American writer and the staff of a London bookshop.

We see how the staff, especially the rather formal, English manager played convincingly by Alan Bolton, relate to the outgoing, louder Jewish American played superbly by Anne McClarnon, from either side of the Atlantic.

National events from the late 1940s to the swinging sixties are background, as letters, like personal diaries, and thoughtful gifts are exchanged.

Throughout, as friendship grows to a kind of romance – this long before internet communication – the anticipation of her coming to visit, summer after summer, adds to the build-up of emotion.

That she only arrives after he has died and the bookshop closed is a moving conclusion, the perfect culmination of the touching insight we have shared.

David Green directs with a masterful and sensitive hand, while Janet Koralambe, Claire Gallant, Jake Kubala, Ros Redelsperger and Emma Jaggs play supports that move effortlessly from humorous moments to deferential assistance to human concern.

All in all it’s a delight, a glimpse into the history of two nations from post-war to affluent excess with generous servings from the heritage of English literature.

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