Chemistry by Jacob Marx Rice. The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 to 23 November 2019. 4****. William Russell.

By Jacob Marx Rice
The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, LondonSW10 9ED to 23 November 2019.
Tues -0Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 90 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 01823 357 851.
Review: William Russell 31 October.

Performed with blazing intensity by Caoimhe Farron and James Mear as two mentally unwell young New Yorkers who meet in their psychiatrist’s waiting room and fall in love Chemistry is a painful, but at times very funny, journey to a suicide. The performances are remarkable. Director Alex Howarth sets their story in a fog shrouded world in the middle of which is a kind of boxing ring inside which the action takes place. The audience on opposite sides of the ring are shrouded in mist and darkness voyeurs of the tale of a doomed love affair. Steph has tried to kill herself time and again. She has a job and seems at first to be coping with her illness.Jamie is a young intern in some politician’s office, brilliant, dedicated, obsessed, a young man with a future but is unable to cope with the stresses this way of life has imposed upon him. They find a mutual salvation – for a time.Stephg may have tried to die several times but she is currently stable, aware of her plight, and has the insight to offer him a prop It is a painful journey to be part of, but the dialogue is crisp and witty, and gradually one enters their worlds The Finborough is small so the decision to arm them with microphones inside the battleground space is questionable as they don’t always use them with the clarity they are supposed to provide – and without them both could, and do, quite easily reach the back of the seating areas. But they create a world of tangled wires and technology, of external forces tied up in strange ways as the pair battle fight their demons, a way of showing the neurotransmitters which keep people moving through everyday life and which, when they go wrong, can result in depression and crippling anxiety. The play, one of a series of three award winning Suicidal Comedies by Jacob Marx Rice, is getting its European premier at the Finborough which is celebrating its 40th year. The production launches the winter season and is everything one expects of this theatre.

Steph: Caoimhe Farren.
Jamie: James Mear.

Director and Designer: Alex Howarth.
Lighting Designer: Rachel Sampley.
Production photograph: Claire Bilyard.

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