Review: The Grinning Man, Bristol Old Vic
16 hours ago
No self-indulgent campery. No freebie tickets. No wallowing in the luvvieness of it all. No TV interviews. No being quoted in newspapers. No hob-knobbing with "celebrity friends". Just decently written theatre reviews!
A strike is imminent at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where the workers churn out pajamas at a backbreaking pace. In the middle of this, a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, has come from out of town to work in the factory. The union, led by Prez, is seeking a wage raise of seven and a half cents an hour. Sid and Babe are in opposite camps, yet romantic interest is sparked at their first encounter. Despite cajoling from her fellow garment workers, Babe appears to reject Sid. Meanwhile, Hines, the popular efficiency expert, is in love with Gladys, the company president's secretary, but is pushing her away with his jealous behavior. After witnessing a fight between the couple, Sid's secretary, Mabel, tries to help Hines break from his jealous ways.. Meanwhile, Sid, rejected again by Babe, is forced to confide his feelings to a dictaphone.
During the annual company picnic,Prez chases after Gladys, who rejects his advances, a drunken Hines demonstrates his knife throwing act (these knives are thrown at Babe), and Babe warms up to Sid. As the picnic-goers head home, Prez turns his attentions to Mae, who responds in the positive far more quickly and aggressively than he'd expected. At Babe's home, Sid's romantic overtures are deflected by Babe, who makes casual conversation on tangential subjects.. Eventually the walls come down between the two, who admit their love for one another, but their estrangement is reinforced when they return to the factory. A slow-down is staged by the union, strongly supported by Babe. Sid, as factory superintendent, demands an "honest day's work" and threatens to fire slackers. Babe, however, is still determined to fight for their cause, and kicks her foot into the machinery, causes a general breakdown and Sid reluctantly fires her. As she leaves, he begins to wonder again whether a romance with her is a mistake
At the Union meeting, Gladys performs for the rest of the union, with "the boys from the cutting room floor" After the main meeting, the Grievance Committee meets at Babe's house, to discuss further tactics, such as mismatching sizes of pajamas and sewing the fly-buttons onto the bottoms such that they are likely to come off and leave their wearer pants-less. At the meeting, as Prez and Mae's relationship is waning, Sid arrives and tries to smooth things over with Babe. Despite her feelings for Sid, she pushes him away
Back at the factory, the girls reassure Hines, who is personally offended by the slow down.. Sid, now convinced that Babe's championship of the union is justified, takes Gladys out for the evening to a night club, "Hernando's Hideaway" , where he wheedles the key to the company's books from her. Hines and Babe each discover the pair and assume they are becoming romantically involved. Babe storms out, and Hines believes his jealous imaginings have come true.
Using Gladys' key, Sid accesses the firm's books and discovers that the boss, Hasler, has already tacked on the extra seven and one-half cents to the production cost, but has kept all the extra profits for himself.
In Gladys' office, Hines, still jealous out of his mind, flings knives past Sid and Gladys (deliberately missing, he claims), narrowly missing an increasingly paranoid Mr. Hasler. After detaining Hines, Sid then brings about Hasler's consent to a pay raise and rushes to bring the news to the Union Rally, already in progress. This news brings peace to the factory and to his love life, allowing him to reconnect with Babe. Everyone goes out to celebrate—at Hernando's Hideaway.
The play concerns Jaffeir, a noble Venetian who has secretly married Belvidera, the daughter of a proud senator named Priuli, who has cut off her inheritance. Jaffeir is impoverished and is constantly rebuffed by Priuli. Jaffeir's friend Pierre, a foreign soldier, stokes Jaffeir's resentment and entices him into a plot against the Senate of Venice. Pierre's own reasons for plotting against the Senate revolve around a senator (a corrupt and foolish Antonio) paying for relations with Pierre's mistress, Aquilina. Despite Pierre's complaints, the Senate does nothing about it, explaining that Antonio has senatorial privilege. Pierre introduces Jaffeir to the conspirators, led by bloodthirsty Renault. To get their trust, he must put Belvidera in Renault's care as a hostage. In the night, Renault attempts to rape her, but she escapes to Jaffeir. Jaffeir then tells Belvidera about the plot against the Senate, and against her father. She devises a plan of her own. Jaffeir will reveal the conspiracy to the Senate and claim the lives of the conspirators as his reward. It is only after Belvidera informs him of the attempted rape that Jaffeir agrees to do this, but the Senate breaks its word and condemns all the conspirators to death. In remorse for betraying his friend and losing his honour (by betraying his oath to the conspirators), Jaffeir threatens to kill Belvidera, unless she can get a pardon for the conspirators. She does so, but the pardon arrives too late. Jaffeir visits Pierre at his execution. Pierre is crestfallen because he is sentenced to die a dishonourable death and not the death of a soldier. He forgives Jaffeir and whispers to him (unheard by the audience) to kill him honourably before he is executed. Jaffeir stabs his friend, Pierre, on the gallows, and as a form of atonement commits suicide. Belvidera then goes insane and dies.
Alfieri, an Italian-American lawyer in his fifties, enters the stage and sits in his office. Talking from his desk to the audience, he introduces the story of Eddie Carbone. Alfieri compares himself to a lawyer in Caesar's time, powerless to watch as the events of history run their bloody course.As Eddie enters his home two fellow Longshoremen, Mike and Louis, greet him. Eddie's niece, Catherine, reaches out the window and waves to them. Eddie scolds Catherine for flirting with the boys so blatantly. Beatrice (Eddie’s partner) convinces Eddie to let Catherine take a job as a stenographer down by the docks. Eddie informs Beatrice that her cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, will be arriving from Italy that night. Beatrice and Eddie plan to hide Marco and Rodolpho who plan to work in the country illegally to send money home.Marco tells them that he has three children and a wife back home that he will be sending money to. Rodolpho, his young blonde brother, has no family and intends to stay in the country as long as possible. Rodolpho entertains everyone with his version of the jazz tune, "Paper Doll."In the following weeks, Rodolpho and Catherine spend a great deal of time together, which worries Eddie. Eddie thinks that Rodolpho is untrustworthy and becomes jealous of the time that Rodolpho spends with Catherine, telling her that Rodolpho just wants to marry her to in order to get his Green Card and become a legal citizen, but she does not listen. Rodolpho develops a reputation at the docks for being quite a joker, which further embarrasses Eddie. Beatrice becomes more aware than ever of the attention Eddie is giving Catherine and encourages Catherine to get married to Rodolpho if that is what she wants to do. Eddie, still frustrated, visits Alfieri and asks if there is any way he can get rid of Rodolpho by law, but Alfieri assures him there is not. Alfieri tells Eddie that he needs to let Catherine go.Eddie becomes increasingly jealous of Rodolpho and resents the fact that Rodolpho thinks Catherine is looser than Italian girls. He threatens Rodolpho in a pretend boxing match, which is stopped by Catherine and Beatrice.Time passes. Rodolpho and Catherine are left alone in the house and have sex . Eddie comes home drunk and kisses Catherine, then pins Rodolpho to the floor and kisses him as well. He visits Alfieri again, who repeatedly tells him to let Catherine go her own way. Instead, Eddie calls the Immigration Bureau and reports the two men as illegal aliens. Immigration officials arrive and arrest them. As he is being taken away, Marco spits in Eddie's face. Alfieri pays bail for the two men and arranges the marriage between Catherine and Rodolpho. On the day of the wedding, Marco returns to the house for revenge. Eddie lunges into Marco with a knife. Marco turns the knife on Eddie and kills him.
Charles Condomine, a successful novelist, wishes to learn about the occult for a novel he is writing, and he arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house. At the séance, she inadvertently summons Charles's first wife, Elvira, who has been dead for seven years. Madame Arcati leaves after the séance, unaware that she has summoned Elvira. Only Charles can see or hear Elvira, and his second wife, Ruth, does not believe that Elvira exists until a floating vase is handed to her out of thin air. The ghostly Elvira makes continued, and increasingly desperate, efforts to disrupt Charles's current marriage. She finally sabotages his car in the hope of killing him so that he will join her in the spirit world, but it is Ruth rather than Charles who drives off and is killed.
Ruth's ghost immediately comes back for revenge on Elvira, and though Charles cannot at first see Ruth, he can see that Elvira is being chased and tormented, and his house is in uproar. He calls Madame Arcati back to exorcise both of the spirits, but instead of banishing them, she materialises Ruth. With both his dead wives now fully visible, and neither of them in the best of tempers, Charles, together with Madame Arcati, goes through séance after séance and spell after spell to try to exorcise them, and at last Madame Arcati succeeds. Charles is left seemingly in peace, but Madame Arcati, hinting that the ghosts may still be around unseen, warns him that he should go far away as soon as possible. Charles leaves at once, and the unseen ghosts throw things and destroy the room as soon as he has gone.
Finian McLonergan arrives in Rainbow Valley,, with his daughter, Sharon, and a "borrowed" pot of gold. His theory is to plant the gold near Fort Knox. Surely it will multiply just as America's bullion burial has made all Americans rich. They encounter poor sharecroppers who are about to lose their land. Henchmen of Senator Billboard Rawkins are ready to pay back taxes and take over. However, his plan is foiled by Woody, who returns from the big city with the tax money, and by Finian, who covers the hidden charges when Woody cannot. In exchange, Finian gets property rights for enough land to sow his golden dream.
While Sharon and Woody are falling in love, Og, a leprechaun, confronts Finian and demands the return of his pot of gold, without which he will start to become human and mortal. But Finian ignores him, as a figment of his imagination. Geologists, working on a secret dam project, detect gold on the sharecroppers' land. Learning this, Rawkins moves in to take the land by force. As he is manhandling a Negro sharecropper, Sharon wishes that Rawkins was black. Unwittingly, she is standing over the magical pot, and her wish is granted. Rawkins dashes into hiding.
A telegram arrives from Shears and Robust granting unlimited credit to the people of the gold-rich valley. Woody persuades them to use the credit to buy tractors and equipment to improve the harvest. Without his gold, Og will become mortal. However, his search for the pot is interrupted by Sharon with whom he immediately falls in love. When Shears and Robust arrive to collect for all the merchandise, Woody satisfies them with proof of future profit. The McLonergan economic theory is working, but Sharon is charged with witchcraft and the mysterious disappearance of Rawkins. Og encounters Billboard in the woods and magically improves his disposition. Arriving back in the Valley, Og encounters Susan the Silent. Love strikes again, only harder. He also learns Sharon is to be burned as a witch unless a white Rawkins can be found. Og believes Susan can tell him where the gold is hidden and so wishes. She talks. He is sitting above the crock. He unearths the pot and makes the final wish that saves Sharon for Woody, but renders himself completely mortal. But Og has Susan. Finian, having proven his theory without a shadow of doubt, moves on to spread joy elsewhere.