A review of Michael Lattin-Rawstrone’s performance in Pythagoras (Smith).
The Pentameters Theatre is nestled in one of those lovely narrow streets of Hampstead and has a history which spans four decades. The walls of this black box theatre are donned with photos of past productions and the space is cosy filled with books, a piano and comfortable cushioned chairs. Despite its long history, the theatre continues to present fresh and provocative work to the fringe scene. Their latest offering is Pythagoras (Smith) by award winning poet and writer Dannie Abse.
The story is about the relationship between a doctor and his patient. Thrown into the mix is a bit of magic , philosophy and medicine. It is absolutely brilliant! The play is set in a mental home called the Cedars where our main character Pythagoras ( Matthew Ward) believes himself to be the Greek philosopher of the same name. He is also a magician and has become a bit of a messiah in the mental home. Many of the other patients have become followers of his creed, but not everyone is so convinced by his shenanigans especially Dr. Robert Aquillus (Harry Saks) who shuns Pythagoras’ claims to supernatural powers.
I found the play to be thought provoking ,intelligent and funny. Abse seems to want to put head to head the staunch beliefs of conventional medicine and the metaphysical experiences of an unorthodox patient. The characters are written with so much detail from the Jesus-loving yank Ellen (Maggie Turner) to the fragile soul of Marian (Cathy Conneff). Each patient has their own quirky ticks: Arthur ( Michael Lattin-Rawstrone) responds only with the word “Marmite”, Biddy (Anne Bird) is convinced a man will cure her depression and Mr. X (Lawrence Russell) obsesses over the number of coffee he drinks and how the stain on the wall looks like Africa.
The cast was on form. Saks gives an excellent performance as the cynical doctor and Matthew Ward plays Pythagoras with great vigour and intensity. Rafe Beckley’s direction was noteworthy as well as the lighting design of the show.
Pythagoras (Smith) is on until Sunday the June 17th. Pentameters Theatre is right around the corner from Hampstead station and would make for a perfect night out in one of London’s loveliest neighbourhoods. www.pentameters.co.uk/ 28 Heath Street NW3 6TE Box Office 020 7435 3648Published: 12 June, 2012