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The Glass Protege

Scene from The Glass Protege, Park Theatre, London. Scene from The Glass Protege, Park Theatre, London.
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In 2010 playwright Dylan Costello showed a summit of world leaders a short film on climate change. He must be confident about the progress of global warming, as The Glass Protege contains scenes of full frontal male nudity on a nippy April evening.

In fairness, this flesh flashing is far from gratuitous, signalling as it does both vulnerability and bravado in Golden Era Hollywood film stars embarking on a destructive affair. What is less relevant to the script is, sadly, much of the script.

There’s a lot to like in this drama, which moves between the original erotic coupling and its fallout 40 years later. However, tension and focus are lost with lateral plots and characters, many of them ciphers that stand in for a whole breed. Mary Stewart’s cocktail-hatted gossip columnist can only be depicted in a highly stylised way, and a starlet – played with brio by Emily Loomes – is one tragedy too many.

Alexander Hulme is charismatic as the strutting movie idol, rendering his moments of pain all the more effective. David R Butler is overwrought and artless as his lover, Patrick, and the lightly jazzy soundtrack is intrusive, the performance only finding its feet once the off switch has been pressed on the music.

Perhaps the most unusual characters are Patrick’s son from a sham marriage – Stephen Connery Brown in a mesmeric emotionally costive style – and his cool Teutonic fiance (Sheena May), fresh from an East German jail and gamely battling the heavy-handed metaphor.

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Script dictates some over-mannered performances and encounters that fall flat, allayed by a wild streak of originality