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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Marmion’

I can’t remember when I last experienced such an intense hour of drama. Vicky Jones’ play is original, unpredictable, shocking and edgy. I was enthralled.

Jo lives with slightly older Harry, who once taught her (no, it’s not about that!). We’re with them for just one night whilst they’re waiting for news of Jo’s sister, who is about to give birth. They are visited twice by Kerry wanting to talk about her abuse at the hands of her partner Bradley. Throughout the night they spar, fight, tease and trick each other, playing sexual and psychological games.

You never know when it’s truth or lies, real or faked, playful or hurtful. There’s an extraordinary energy and tension about it that grips you from the off and never lets go. It’s also very funny, but after you’ve laughed you often feel guilty that you did laugh, making you feel complicit in their games.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become one of the finest actors around and here she’s mesmerising. Rufus Wright is a great sparring partner and Lu Corfield contrasts and complements them. It’s played on a clever elevated stage like a boxing ring, designed by Anthony Lamble, and Steve Marmion’s direction is masterly.

A great, unmissable new play

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You don’t really expect a quartet of people ‘off the telly’ at Soho Theatre and the audience for this did seem a bit un-Soho. The ‘alternative’ Christmas show they got seemed unfinished and a bit underpowered.

Gary apprehends an elf breaking into his warehouse but instead of calling the police he calls his mate Simon, because he thinks it might actually be one of Santa’s elves. Simon certainly doesn’t think so and for a while we’re getting nowhere. It isn’t until prostitute Cherry turns up for her son’s promised present half-way through that the play takes off. This is where it also gets filthier, but we do get their back stories too – failed careers, broken marriages, unfulfilled lives. The addition of songs is a bit half-hearted and clumsy and I think it might be better without them. Michael Vale’s uber-realistic warehouse is great though.

In Steve Marmion’s production, the performances all seemed a bit tentative, even though it had played more than 10 shows and had already been shown to the press. Maybe actors more used to TV were uncomfortable with the live experience, or maybe they were under rehearsed? They all had their moments – Teachers’ Navin Chowdhry, Shameless’ Rebecca Atkinson and a pair of Corrie Craigs – Gazey & Kelly – but they weren’t consistent.

Maybe it was an off night. Maybe it’ll settle. Based on this performance, though, Anthony Neilson’s play is a potentially good alternative Christmas show trying to get out.

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