Review: Amusing and emotional play tells a tale of self-discovery

We all know that feeling – stuck in an airport because of delays and bad weather.

Thursday, 6th June 2013, 3:09 pm

And these stresses and anxieties are captured perfectly in John Godber’s Departures, currently showing at the Archway Theatre in Horley (until June 15).

The departure lounges of ten airports across Europe and America provide the backdrop of delays, dangers and frustration as two business executives, Jim (Andrew Cornell) and Steve (George Duda), embark on a journey of self-discovery. While the easy-going Steve spends time on the mobile running a number of love interests, with the morals of a cat, Jim is determined to remain faithful to his wife Claire (Carolyn Coles).

But the arrival of young Zoë (Alexandra Spurgeon) changes all that and the anxiety of the departure lounge becomes all too personal for all involved.

As with all Godber plays, Departures has tremendous humour (Andrew Cornell’s reaction to being propositioned by an Eastern European prostitute is a delight), but also packs an emotional punch (the final scene will have the coldest of hearts reaching for the tissues).

Director Mandi Dunford has done a wonderful job and the set is magnificent. The atmosphere of a departure lounge is caught perfectly and how they make it appear to be 10 different lounges is subtle but very effective.

Andrew Cornell has perfect comic timing while his chemistry with George Dua and Carolyn Coles is spot on. Elodie Bass provides good laughs as the prostitute and Alexandra Spurgeon is spot on as the flirty Zoe.

You can relate to all the characters and situations they get into, and that’s what makes Godber – and this play – so good.

To buy tickets for Departures visit

By Mark Dunford