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Jeffrey Bernard - Fun with a drunk

"Eclipse cut their dramatic teeth with a decidedly fit production of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell at Hurstpierpoint in the arts festival there.

Keith Waterhouse's account of a night in the life of the alcoholic and much married Spectator columnist, finds him locked in his favourite pub for the night after passing out in the gents and not being missed at closing time (a likely story!). During the course of his vodka induced meanderings, the old soak recalls all the colourful characters he has met during a lifetime spent in the confines of Soho - a much more exotic place then by all accounts than it is now.

David Villiers' sharp and incisive production had the impact of a large vodka martini, and Geoff Twyman's intimate account of the Coach and Horses provide a generous measure of the special atmosphere of the pub. Villiers also timed well the comic interjections of a whole galaxy of characters that figure in the tales. There are some 30 of these and they were caricatured in polished fashion by Faith Fallon, Julie Manville, Nigel Summer and David Tettersell. Poets, hacks, jockeys, trainers, actors and various other larger than life folk, strutted their stuff on the stage of Bernard's drink stimulated memory. Far from looking destroyed by the booze, Barry Dowden suggested a latter day Falstaff in the title role which he played with attack and assurance. It was easy to believe him when he assured us that you meet all the best people in the gutter: poets, painters, prostitutes... Dylan Thomas.

There was a hint of bleaknes too from this Toad of Tipple at the memory of friends now dead. The limitations in his portrayal were due to a lack of modulation in vocal delivery for what is a mountain of a role to climb. Too much upward inflection made for a booming delivery that seemed a tad unnatural at times. Even so, although it never quite suggested a man who had seen the world through a glass darkly, this was a vigourous fun performance that carried the evening."

Mid Sussex Times review