Sunday, 27 October 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Out Of Time - Salford Arts Theatre, Salford.

There has never been a decade quite like the '60s when (for the UK and America at least) so very much changed and of the many popular and creative music groups that emerged during those years on both sides of the pond, two bands led the pack for both success and influence; The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The Stones are still with us although their founder, Brian Jones, died fifty years ago. This play is his story.

Brian Jones was a complex character, and writer Tim Keogh sought to explore the person rather than deliver a detailed account of the Rolling Stones’ journey to becoming ‘the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world’. The play concentrated on key events in the life of one of rock’s most enigmatic personalities, showing his relationships with important people in his life, notably Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The playful camaraderie of Jagger and Richards was something which Jones never quite became a part of, and ‘Out Of Time’ caught the essence of the bond between them, which continues to this day.

The many women in the philandering life of Jones were shown through the characters of Pat, one of five women Jones got pregnant and abandoned, and Anita Pallenberg, the German groupie who actually left Jones for fellow-Stone Keith Richards. Mary, the housekeeper of his mansion, who became effectively a surrogate mother to Jones was an excellent inclusion, enabling the audience through her, to see into the real person of the musician behind his masks. Together, these three women provided a very rounded picture of Brian Jones. Jessica Porter as Pat was very much the stay-at-home young mother, representative of most women of that time in a society that was still very patriarchal. Sophie Koumides as the strong-willed and independent Anita Pallenberg perfectly showed the changing times; here was the woman in which Brian Jones finally met his match. Hiller Barber gave a warm and affectionate performance as the housekeeper in whom Jones could finally unburden his inner hurts and feelings, with tragedy of Jones’s life compounded by her attempts to save him from himself.

This was a studio production with no props save for an acoustic guitar, a flight case and a bottle of brandy but in many ways, the simplicity of presentation made the relational dramas all the more compelling as the life of the confident musician and band-founder was shown to gradually fall apart. The hard-edged, ruthless career-rock star was progressively revealed to be a very vulnerable individual, with unresolved inner hurts. Jones’s problems in allowing emotional intimacy with those close to him was compounded with a coping-struggle of his high-profile public image and ‘Out Of Time’ convincingly brought over this progressive conflict.

Jake Bush was well cast as Jones, having a similar appearance and just the right well-spoken, Southern accent which characterised the musician. Hailing from leafy Cheltenham, Jones was the odd-man-out in several ways in London’s answer to The Beatles and this came over well in the performance. Peter Austen as Mick and Sam Evans as Keith nailed the ‘Glimmer Twins’ (right down to the famous Mick Jagger lips!) and Jagger’s physicality and ego was well brought over, as was Richards' cheerful, more laid-back countenance. It would have helped if both had spoken with Southern accents but all the mannerisms of these famous performers were there.

Care had clearly been taken to get the trademark hairstyles and casual clothes of the members of the Stones looking right with suitably period clothing for each of the very different female characters, particularly the snappy '60’s outfits worn by Anita Pallenberg. ‘Out Of Time’ was a fitting tribute to one of the icons of '60’s music and a very human portrait of a troubled but very talented individual.

Reviewer - John Waterhouse
on - 25/10/19

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