Peter Nichols' 1967 play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, is being revived at the New Ambassadors.
Disability is a difficult subject to deal with in the theatre, and making jokes about it even more so. That Peter Nichols' play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, manages the feat is all the more remarkable given that it was written in 1967, when the whole subject was much less discussed in public.
The revival, starring Clive Owen and Victoria Hamilton, with Prunella Scales, and directed by Laurence Boswell, started previews Tuesday Sept. 25 at the New Ambassadors and opens on Oct. 1. It proves that Nichols' psychological insight into the predicament of a young couple whose ten year-old child is so handicapped that they have to invent a personality for him, has passed the test of time.
In a sense, of course, the couple's predicament — their desire to have a child, which has not been answered by the existence of their vegetative-state son — is a timeless one, though it is interesting that in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the same basic human need was given a very different twist, with a childless, warring, middle-aged couple having turned out to have invented a son in order to fill an emotional gap in their marriage.
With the success of the Donmar's revival of Nichols' Passion Play last year and its up-coming revival of Privates on Parade later this year, it appears that Nichols' reputation as a comic writer with a wry but sympathetic take on the human condition is striking a sympathetic chord with London theatregoers. For tickets and information about A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the New Ambassadors call 020 7836 6111. For Privates On Parade call the Donmar at 020 7369 1732.
— by Paul Webb Theatrenow