Review: Rough Crossing

PUBLISHED: 08:06 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:06 27 February 2019

Rough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), John Partridge (Turai), Matthew Cottle (Gal), Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha) - Credit Pamela Raith

Rough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), John Partridge (Turai), Matthew Cottle (Gal), Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha) - Credit Pamela Raith

Pamela Raith

Rough Crossing is a surprisingly apt name for Tom Stoppard's musical comedy, as anyone who has ever had a shaky boat ride will know, once you disembark it soon fades from memory unless it resulted in the ship sinking.

Rough Crossing - Simon Dutton (Ivor) and Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha) - Credit Pamela RaithRough Crossing - Simon Dutton (Ivor) and Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha) - Credit Pamela Raith

Monday night’s performance at Bath’s Theatre Royal was just that, two hours of slightly tempestuous, but ultimately forgettable theatre.

Stoppard’s reworking of Ferenc Molnár’s The Play At The Castle never plunges to the bottom of the ocean, but rarely does it leave more of an impression than your average ferry crossing.

Set in the 1930s aboard a cruise liner bound for New York, Rough Crossing tells the tale of a pair of bickering Hungarian playwrights Turai (John Partridge) and Gal (Matthew Cottle), desperate to finish their latest work before its Broadway debut.

The only problem, the composer Adam (Rob Ostlere) is threatening to quit after overhearing the leading lady, his fiancé Natasha (Issy van Randwyck) in a tryst with leading man Ivor (Simon Dutton). If they can convince Adam, Natasha and Ivor were just rehearsing, then it will be alright on the night.

Rough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha), John Partridge (Turai), Matthew Cottle (Gal) - Credit Pamela Raith PhotographyRough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), Issy Van Randwyck (Natasha), John Partridge (Turai), Matthew Cottle (Gal) - Credit Pamela Raith Photography

So long as Clouseau-esque cabin steward Dvornichek (Charlie Stemp) doesn’t screw it up.

Unfortunately Rough Crossing’s main conceit falls flat because, like the play within a play Turai and Gal are working on, it’s impossible to care about most of the characters and even less about their plight.

That’s not to bash the cast, each of the principle actors did a marvellous job with what they were given.

Likewise Rachel Kavanaugh’s direction is strong throughout,

Charlie Stemp as Dvornichek in Rough Crossing.  Credit: Pamela Raith PhotographyCharlie Stemp as Dvornichek in Rough Crossing. Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

It’s just a shame that the plays best characters Turai, Gal, and Dvornichek are wasted on trying to prop up an absurdest plot that goes absolutely nowhere.

The rare moments in which Turai and Gal’s long-standing partnership are delved into are some of the play’s best, likewise watching Dvornichek bungle his way thorough another order, or sum up events in an uncharactersitically insightful monologue never failed to entertain,

Unfortuntely, these sparse moments of promise are interrupted by several tedious ditties from André Previn (My Fair lady), and an overwrought love story that should have been a minor subplot at best.

Ultimately,What cold have been a brilliant examination of the creative process and the narcissism that fuels it is reduced to a dull love story and an increasingly tired gag about a vanishing glass of Cognac.

Rough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), John Partridge (Turai), Charlie Stemp (Dvornichek) -  Credit Pamela Raith PhotographyRough Crossing - [l-r] Rob Ostlere (Adam), John Partridge (Turai), Charlie Stemp (Dvornichek) - Credit Pamela Raith Photography

Rough Crossing is at the Bath Theatre Royal, in Saw Close until Saturday,

Tickets, priced £23.50-37.50, are available on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk

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