Review: Lost and Found

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

A couple of gentle little plays about a British seaside town – Lost and Found are neither of these things. They might masquerade as light comedy, but underneath Jane Thornton’s Lost bubbles an anger and frustration at the loss of what we should value, while her husband John Godber rails against the injustice of the demonisation of the working class in Found .

They are two exceptionally good pieces of work with pathos and profundity squeezed into every line.

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Created as a double bill for Scarborough’s summer season, while they are marginally more entertaining when seen together, either piece works as a stand-alone piece.

In Thornton’s Lost , which opens the double bill, Tom and Chelsea are a couple of drifters working in a hotel during the Scarborough holiday season. The turn for the night has failed to transpire so they improvise a show about hotel guests. Playing Len and Betty, they represent every holiday-maker whose only wish is to spend a couple of days at a beleaguered seaside resort.

Len and Betty are a couple of easily recognisable tropes. They are the put upon Everyman living out their last days in a northern town while the world around them turns to dust. They hope for a gentle old age, a peaceful retirement with a doting son nearby. However, they’ve also got an ever decreasing pension pot, a son saddled with debt when his business went bust and not enough spare to have their own miniature brandy from the minibar. It’s a sad state of affairs and it’s one that exercise s Thornton in the same way it has her husband. Fortunately for us s he entertain s while working out these frustrations.

Godber’s Found starts out as sub-standard fare aiming to be Beckett – and failing – and ends up a glorious piece of polemic that is as entertaining as it is gripping.

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Chelsea and Tom are at the fag end of their working season and meet on the beach for one last night. Tom is a Phd student who’s forgotten his working class roots – Chelsea can’t escape hers, but doesn’t notice her chains. It grows through the hour to become a piece that is coruscating and dazzling.

To September 1, then touring.