The Graduate

Norwich Theatre Royal

In this new incarnation of Terry Johnson's hit London play, director Tamara Harvey brings us a show which bubbles with stylish talk and well-timed visual gags.

Just like the cult film with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, the first image is that of a misfit: the eponymous graduate, Ben, played here by Andres Williams, explains his sense of Welt Angst to bewildered parents in the midst of a soiree they had thrown in his honour.

The opening sequence – in which the stage is bathed in a rippling, sensuous blue-grey light, reminiscent both of water and smoke – gives more clues to the boy's inner state: a character at sea in a distinctly adult world.

Not that his parents encouraged permissiveness. Theirs is the rigid kind of conservative Californian home, where emotions are kept in check – in a nicely judged moment, his mother, Barbara Drennan, inquires, if he is ill but doesn't attempt to touch him.

Things really sizzle, however, when Glynis Barber as Mrs Robinson appears in the doorway.

A practised sexual predator, she immediately forces her prey off guard with charisma that is like a strong draught of illicit spirit. If anyone doubted that the Dempsey and Makepeace star could play the siren without a Jerry Hall-style strip, here was the proof.

Most Read

But, at the end of the day, this was satire, not just a light-hearted comedy, and its moral message came through flawless, without sermonizing – particularly in the character of Elaine, the serious-minded seductress's daughter, who was busy rewriting all the old sayings. “Heaven,” she said, “is in the details.”

With a host of subtle and finely-tuned performances before my eyes, I couldn't help thinking she was right.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter