Elaine Bermitz, JLife Manchester’s roving reporter, saw The Jewish Theatre Company’s latest production of JM Barrie’s Dear Brutus. Here’s what she thought…
Dear Brutus, first staged in 1917 was written more than a decade after JM Barrie’s best known piece, Peter Pan, about a boy who never grew up. Whereas Peter Pan is whimsical, light and humorous, Dear Brutus tells a darker more thoughtful tale.
Barrie was always fascinated by ‘what might have been” and when four apparently unconnected couples are invited by a mysterious, timeless creature to his remote house the week before midsummer, they are mystified. Each of them has a flaw in their character and is consumed by regret, blaming past choices for their present unhappiness. Invited by the host to spend the night in an enchanted wood, the couples reveal their regret and when they return to the house some of their experiences remain with them.
The philanderer sees that he has married the right wife after all, the thief that he will always want others property, and the snobbish woman discovers that she was common by birth. The most touching realisation by far is the artist’s understanding that his longing for a child will never be fulfilled, a longing that JM Barrie shared, and the strange old man is the timeless Puck, borrowed from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The peculiar title comes from a quotation from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault dear Brutus lies not within our stars, but with ourselves.”
This less than humorous play is not staged very often and it is to The Jewish Theatre Company’s (JTC) credit that it was so successful. The set, the choice of actors and their delivery were all excellent, meaning that their grip on the audience’s attention was complete. Michael Englender as the childlike old man stood out in the first half and the exchange between Howard Yaffe and Lana Dean as would-be father and longed for child were excellent. The JTC regularly excels with its musical theatre productions and it was good to see them step out of their comfort zone to tackle a more thoughtful play this time. Well worth watching.
Tickets still available for the final performance on 22nd November at Thejtc.co.uk/buy-tickets or on the door.