Theatre Review - 4000 Days

In Peter Quilter’s warm-hearted play about love and memory loss, Michael (Alistair McGowan) has been in a coma for three weeks. He’s watched over in hospital by Carol (Maggie Ollerenshaw), his widowed mother, and Paul (Daniel Weyman), his loyal partner. It’s quickly evident that Carol and Paul don’t get on.

On waking, Michael realises that 4,000 days of his memory have been erased. He recalls nothing of his 10-year relationship with Paul. Carol can barely hide her delight.

Dismayed, Paul sets about trying to resurrect their memories together. He plays their favourite CDs, brings in photographs and mementos and even arranges for a decade’s worth of Guardian papers to be delivered to the hospital room.

We learn that their time together has been far from ideal. Like any couple, they bickered. More damagingly, Paul had crushed Michael’s love of painting, encouraging him instead to take a job in insurance. “You painted him beige,” says Carol accusingly.

Michael sets about reclaiming his love of art by painting an ambitious mural in his hospital room. Gradually, Paul realises that if he loves Michael he has to let him go and allow him to start over.

Part of the joy of Matt Aston’s assured, slow-burning production are the three nuanced performances.

Ollerenshaw conveys Carol’s loneliness masked by a sharp tongue, McGowan is at his best when delivering Michael’s caustic one-liners and Wyman invests Paul with a terrific combination of devotion, hurt and bluster. Recommended.

Park 200 until 13 February
020 7870 6876 

Originally published in Camden Review