ROWAN ATKINSON played the title role in Quartermaine’s Terms to great acclaim when it was produced in the West End last year, and Sinodun Players’ production of Simon Gray’s poignant comedy drama at Wallingford Corn Exchange promises to be as memorable, writes Carol Evans.
While loneliness may be the underlying theme of Gray’s award-winning play, it is anything but depressing. It sparkles with wit, humour and extremely funny situations alongside pathos and eccentricity.
The setting is the staff common room of a language school for foreign students in Oxford during the Sixties, where the rarefied atmosphere conceals a simmering hotbed of seething emotions.
The action takes place over a four-year period during which time we see how the chaotic lives of a group of six teachers and the school’s co-principal are gradually falling apart.
At the centre of it all sits teacher St John Quartermaine, a lonely bachelor who is a sympathetic listener when his colleagues rant about their lot. The rest of them just talk too much, and are far too engrossed in themselves and their own problems to pay heed to anyone else’s.