Theatre Review: Cross Purpose - King's Head Theatre, Islington ✭✭✭

Cross Purpose 
Paddy Navin as Mother and Jamie Birkett as Martha
Photo: Chris Gardner

King's Head Theatre, Islington

Review by Unsa Chaudri

Albert Camus, one of the contributors to the philosophy of absurdism, is probably less well known as a playwright, though it is one of his plays which brings me back to the Kings Head Theatre.

Having read l'etranger (the stranger), I was quite excited to see what Cross Purpose would bring.

Set in Bohemia, Cross Purpose tells the story of a mother and daughter who run a hotel, relying on the odd ‘good customer’; one who has value. The daughter, Martha, dreams of a life by the sea, a place where mortals have sunshine but no soul, a place she feels will give her the life she wants. 

Jamie Birkett as Martha
Photo: Chris Gardner
Her mother, an ageing lady with poor eyesight, only wants to rest but Martha, steadfast and full of zeal will do anything to achieve her dreams...anything.

Jan, who left home at 18, returns 20 years later with a surprise for his family. Hiding his identity, he gets more than he bargained for by unwittingly becoming the hotels latest victim.

Jamie Birkett brilliantly portrayed the different emotions of Martha, showing passion and vigour in parts; a stark contrast to her nonchalant self and stoic mother; excellently played by Paddy Navin.

David Lomax played Jan with such naivety, vulnerability and optimism that you hope some miracle will save him, alas, Albert Camus is not famed for such traditional ‘happy endings’ and with his demise a series of tragedies ensue.

Although I enjoyed the performance as a whole, I left feeling disappointed, as though something was missing. It just lacked the charm I was after.

I would recommend Cross Purpose to those who like dark humour and do not mind the odd discrepancy.

3 stars ✭✭✭

Listings information

Cross Purpose

King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper Street 
N1 1QN

Tuesday 8 January - Saturday 2 February

Tuesday to Saturday at 7.15pm
Sunday at 3.00pm

Tickets: £10.00 - £25.00

Box office: 020 7478 0160