I Have Been Here Before

Jessica Olim and Moses Lutfi join the London Repertory Players cast this week for I Have Been Here Before 

I Have Been Here Before: The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne 

It’s 1937 and nearly 20 years after the horrors of the First World War, England is quietly dreading the prospect of more hostilities while for individuals there are inner conflicts too. It is against this social backdrop, in a remote Inn among the rolling hills and moors of his native Yorkshire that JB Priestley set his unsettling ‘Time’ play I Have Been Here Before.

A strange professor turns up asking odd questions about yet-to-arrive guests. What plays out over the next couple of days changes the lives of everyone concerned.

This fourth production in London Repertory Players excellent five-play season at the Tivoli is a brave move. Following last week’s romp-along triumph with their sizzling version of Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels, Priestley's slow-burner of a psychological drama was always going to have its work cut out.

Needless to say, the talented London Rep’ company do it proud with Al Wadlan and Victoria Porter as father and daughter mine hosts. Mitch Capaldi is the maybe or maybe not mad professor, Dr Gortler, who insists that his fellow guests are inextricably inter-connected and the disturbing sense of déjà vu they feel is pre-destined.

Married couple Walter and Janet Ormund (Neil James and Jessica Olim) realise that the dissatisfaction that blights their marriage and lives may be rooted in a past they never knew. Meanwhile schoolmaster Oliver Farrant (Moses Lutfi) is battling a depression that can only be beaten by listening to the strange doctor and letting his heart rule his head.

Good acting from all concerned, an acute awareness of nuance and strong direction by Su Gilroy successfully overcome potential difficulties. Maybe it was just me but I felt that Priestley’s noticeably old-fashioned drama was, ironically, a little out of time. It also sports a strangely unfulfilling set that frankly did little to enhance what eventually proved a very well-received play. But these minor moans are trifling matters. Essentially what you have is another great night at the theatre.

I Have Been Here Before runs at the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne, until Saturday 20th August.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022