The nemonic Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is ingraned into the minds of any music student but in Tom Stoppards collaboration with Andre Preven the phrase takes on a wider metaphor.
A play for actors and orchestra sees a full size symphony orchestra fill the stage while two political prisoners are ‘imprisoned’ in a mental institution. One imagines an orchestra in his head while the other sees innocent people being arrested by the state – who is mad and who is sane?
Its almost Chekhovian in tone but the use of the orchestra adds a grander scale. It takes some time to come to terms with the set up and in a play that only lasts just over an hour this is a problem. By the time the concept is imbedded though the two elements work well and adds a further dimension to the play.
The epic Olivier stage is needed for such as a production as this but the very scale of the theatre somehow distances the emotional connection. It may be a contradiction but such an epic production may be better served by a more intimate venue.
An interesting exploration but not wholly satisfying.