Dear Brutus Provides Charming Entertainment

Dear Brutus, Southwark Playhouse ★★★☆☆

Neil Dowden
By Neil Dowden Last edited 13 months ago

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Dear Brutus Provides Charming Entertainment Dear Brutus, Southwark Playhouse 3
Photo: Mitzi de Margary

Like his far better-known work Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie’s Dear Brutus is a charming, fanciful story that offers a tantalising glimpse into a parallel world where inner yearnings can be acted out. Blurring the line between reality and fantasy, its playful spirit and whimsical humour are counterbalanced by a sense of unfulfilled potential and poignant loss.

Photo: Mitzi de Margary

A mysterious old man has invited eight strangers to stay in his country retreat. They find out he has chosen them because they have all taken a ‘wrong turning’ at some point in their lives — and he is offering them a ‘second chance’ to put things right if they enter an enchanted wood that springs up nearby during midsummer week.

Photo: Mitzi de Margary

Although the title comes from Cassius’s words in Julius Caesar, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves’ (i.e. our character not fate drives our life course), the play more resembles A Midsummer Night’s Dream in its anarchic, dreamlike quality, with the host as a superannuated Puck.

Photo: Mitzi de Margary

Troupe’s centenary production by Jonathan O’Boyle conjures up a sense of magical possibilities, with Anna Reid’s Edwardian drawing room ‘transformed’ into a wild wood with the descent of multi-coloured petals from the flies, backed by atmospheric lighting and music. Not so much Neverland as Maybeland.

Dear Brutus, Southwark Playhouse, 77–85 Newington Causeway,  SE1 6BD. Until 30 December 2017. Tickets £20.

Last Updated 08 December 2017