A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City
at Finborough Theatre, London
"It is a warm glimpse into a cold subject matter"
The award for longest title of the year goes to…. I think you get the gist. Playwright Halley Feiffer is not afraid of words. Her other works include I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard, How To Make Friends And Then Kill Them and Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow.
A Funny Thing is set in a hospital unit, brilliantly designed by Isabella Van Braekel. Two mothers are battling ovarian cancer. Their children, strangers at the start, soon make contact across the soul-searching void and strike an unlikely friendship.
What happens over the next few days in the story is bittersweet - in turns hilarious and heartbreaking. The passionate performances are superbly contained within the claustrophobic set, with splendidly clean direction from Bethany Pitts.
The ‘children’ have bottled up so much, they are constrained by their grief. Cariad Lloyd plays the feisty but vulnerable Karla, opposite Peter Crouch’s Don, a grizzly bear with a heart of gold.
Karla’s mother, Marcie, played by Kristin Milward, is spiky, cruel and no-nonsense. Milward pitches the character with just the right sprinkling of bitterness. Whereas Don’s mother, Geena, played by Cara Chase, is the epitome of ‘nice’. If the play has a fault, it is that we don’t get enough time with Geena as a contrast to Marcie’s demanding personality. Instead Geena becomes a bit part.
The whole piece rests on the chemistry between the other three. It is from Feiffer’s heart and genuine - nothing feels false and preachy. It is a warm glimpse into a cold subject matter.
Photographer James O Jenkins
Producer Arsalan Sattari
Director Bethany Pitts
Designer Isabella Van Braeckel
Venue Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London
Tube West Brompton (Overground and District Line)
Performances Until Saturday 27th October
Times 7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday -
Sunday Matinees at 3pm
Tickets £18 (concessions £16) until 14th October,
then £20 / £18
Box Office www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk and 01223 357851
Running Time 90 minutes (no interval)
Twitter @FunnyThingPlay, @HalleyFeiffer, @finborough