I know this isn't strictly Life on Mars, but, it is John Simm and the play is set in the 70's ;) Hope this is ok.genesbitch
otherwise known as Jenny D, went up to the Sheffield Crucible on Thursday to see John Simm and Colin Tierney in 'Betrayal'. With kind permission, here is her account in full fangirly flourish :)
This is a complete fangirly account of Betrayal at Sheffield Crucible theatre, starring John Simm, Colin Tierney and Ruth Gemmell. And i make no excuses for this.
A quick synopsis of the play to begin with – it’s basically a three hander (there is a waiter character to offer some funny moments but largely it’s just the three of them), with John and Colin as best friends, but John has being having an affair with Colin’s wife, Ruth, over the course of the last seven years. The plays works backwards from Ruth telling John she has told her husband about the affair, to Colin telling John he knew all along, and then backwards to Ruth wife telling Colin originally, John and Ruth meeting for afternoon “lunches”, and right back to when their affair initially began. It’s a wonderful play, fully of sexual tension and long pauses and stolen glances, and lots and lots of heartbreak. I’m a big fan of man pain (any David Morrissey fan loves the man pain) and this was full of it.
The play is set across different years, but largely set in the 1970s, which of course meant vintage 70s clothes costumes! Any self respecting Life On Mars fan is immediately reduced to a puddle of squee upon seeing John Simm in flares and heeled boots with blakeys, and yes, i had precisely that reaction. As soon as i saw John in that beautiful mix of browns and beiges and dark reds i knew no matter what the performance may bring i was going to die happy. Later, John was to change into a thigh skimming black leather jacket with large lapels and i audibly squealed. My Mum looked at me and i just about managed to say, “Sam’s jacket!”. I missed the next say 2 minutes of dialogue because my mind had wandered to a not entirely pure place. Another gorgeously cute note to make regarding the costumes was that at one point John was wearing a long, beige mack and the sleeves had been folded over and stitched up because he has short arms. Most of my jackets and coats are adapted in precisely the same way, nice to know i’m not the only one who can’t find coat sleeves that fit!
Enough of the costume, though i will return to it later on, at the very beginning of the performance John enters first and as i was on the front row he was stood right beside me waiting to take to the stage. The lights were off and the only light that was on gave me no clue as to who was stood beside me, all i could make out was that it was a man with very grey sideburns. Of course as soon as he walked onto the stage i knew it was John – there is only one man in the world who swaggers like John! – but my he has gone incredibly grey all of a sudden. Later on i was to notice that Colin has also gone very rapidly grey since i last saw him 18 months ago so i am assuming (hoping?) they have both had cosmetic help in achieving their hair colourings!
And then John spoke – that upper class, tennis playing, wife swapping, accent that all Pinter plays incorporate – and there was only one voice that he could have modelled it on. He sounded like Phil Glenister! This amused me for a while and then John said something funny (the opening scene was very amusing) and i saw that little pouty smiley thing he does and i went all warm and fuzzy. The accent suddenly wasn’t all that important. Incidentally i think Colin’s accent was better, though i desperately missed his Irish brogue!
Early on in the play John and Colin meet in Colin’s study to discuss the revelation that John has being having an affair with Colin’s wife. And John’s character is heartbroken when Colin reveals he has known about the affair for years but chose to continue with his marriage and not say anything. John thought he and Colin were best friends and feels betrayed. And John started crying. Really crying. It was so beautifully sad. Later on, as the scenes skipped back to the moment Colin first puts the pieces together and confronts his wife about his suspicions, Colin too cried, and there were some serious tears rolling down that man’s cheeks. I just wanted to cuddle him he looked so heartbreakingly vulnerable. His world shattered and it’s a testament to his acting skill that i welled up for him!
Obviously, given the play is largely about adultery, there were lots of heated moments and the moment when John led Ruth onto a bed at the back of the stage, whilst unbuttoning his shirt, was fingers-under-the-collar time. I used every ounce of my being to prevent myself from wolf whistling. There were also lots of stolen kisses and lingering embraces, it was all very fitting with the play and my little fangirl gremlin in my head was dancing with joy at being witness to it all.
There was a fabulous slashy moment as well when Colin says to his wife maybe he should have had the affair with John instead. They could have played squash together and then showered together and then ”lunched” together. This happens whilst all three characters are on stage – Ruth looks awfully awkward and Colin pushes his luck to see her squirm in front of her former lover. John meanwhile loves it, he confidently struts around the stage, sipping his tumbler of whisky, watching the spectacle. And, in my tiny mind, enjoying the suggestions Colin was proffering.
During the final scene, set in 1968, John comes onto the stage wearing all black. A high-neck black sweatshirt and black trousers, and then proceeded to stand over a light at the bottom of the stage. And in that moment, and only a dedicated Simm fan/complete mentalist would notice this, in that moment his hair was washed out against the darkness and he was instantly blonde Master for a second or two. Again, i made an odd, and audible, noise which i managed to stifle as clearing my throat. Throughout this final scene, which is when the affair begins, John is drunk and he unleashes a long monologue upon Ruth about how much he loves her and how beautiful she is. He says how she bowls him over with her self and how life will never be the same again. How the words he is speaking, which he has fought so hard to find, have never been said before and never will be said again because there will never be another moment like this. It was one of those moments that makes your heart swell, and naturally, the affair begins then and there – who could possibly resist such charm?! I think ever female in the audience was secretly pretending John was speaking directly to them.
After the performance i wandered round to the stage door. Ruth was first out and nobody seemed interested in speaking to her so i took the initiative and had a photo with her and had her sign my program. Then John came out (in a slight rush because Dean Andrews was waiting for him in the bar!) but was happy to sign for everyone and have photos with everyone. I told him he was amazing and he said thank you and flashed me that grin of his. He was wearing the sexiest leather biker jacket and Elvis t-shirt. Very sexy. Then Colin came out and everyone was too preoccupied with John so i chatted to Colin for a while (my God that man is beautiful, with a beautiful accent to boot) and he was happy to pose for a photo. I told him how much i loathe Pinter and he agreed with me and we had a chat about how much we hate The Birthday Party. I said it had all gone a bit mad because John came out before him and he said he could understand, even he was a bit n love with him (ARGH! Fangirl squee in my head!). I then said goodnight to Colin so some other girls could man handle him and he squeeze-patted my hip and said goodbye. In my head i clicked my heels and skipped away. In reality i saw John was leaving the crowd also and made my Mum half run/walk after him so we could walk behind him. We were going the same way as him, honest. We followed behind him at a safe distance for a few minutes and as he turned to go into the bar he turned and smiled at us. He knew we’d been following him, epic fail! But he was nice enough to give us that extra smile and knew we were harmless enough. As we walked on i saw Dean waiting in the bar for John but we decided not to bother them any further. I was already one very happy girl.
And here is the photo she managed to get...
As an aside, this is the photo that she, myself and elfbert
tried to get with him all those years ago when we went to the Baftas. Good on her! I'm so chuffed for her XD