Games for Lovers
By Ryan Craig.
The Vaults Theatre, Leake Street, Waterloo, London SE1 7NN to 25 August 2019.
Tues-Sun 7.30pm. Mat Sat & Sun 3.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 815 7141
Review: William Russell 17 July.
Four spirited performances carry this rather over produced tale about survival in the world of finding lovers to success. It is aimed at the late twenty something who has learned a thing or two, has faith in Tinder, but still ends up in a singles bar weeping into either their beer or an aperol spritzer, and judging by the audience response hits the target pretty well most of the time. Darters (BiIlly Postlethwaite) is a lean rangy singleton who thinks he knows all the answers. His best mate Logan (Calum Callaghan) in a relationship with Jenny (Tessie Orange Turner), is friends and wanting more with Martha (Evanna Lynch), a nurse besotted with one of the doctors on her ward and one of life’s innocents abroad. The plot involves Darters, who goes by the nickname Wham, managing to get her to be his flat mate and then instructing her on how to get her man with disastrous results for all concerned. In the end, though, Martha finally does as she is taught, although whether she is going to be happy ever after is another matter. It is set in a multi coloured abstract world of geometrical shapes and the cast do lots of dancing, or possibly prancing is the better word, about and ride scooters and throw balls about which rather takes away for the stuff of the play, although for much of the time it really consists of a series of revue sketches showing us the dos and the don’ts of the dating game. Postlethwaite makes a marvellous ring master, a man who bounces back from disaster after disaster convinced in his invincibility, and forever coming up with some new ruse, while Lynch suffers delightfully as the sort of woman who thinks it will all go wrong anyway, although her Irish accent at times makes her a little tricky to follow, and her role in life is to suffer and weep. Callaghan is a lad’s lad to the nth degree, the sort of man starting to get just a little gray at the edges who is happier with his best mate lusting after birds they are not going to pull, and not good husband material or even good lover material. Orange-Turner sizzles as Jenny who has found her man and, in spite of his drawbacks, will do anything not to lose him. Director Anthony Banks, lucky in his cast, has slightly over egged the pudding with a production that keeps being ever so clever and inventive when just relying on the material might do. In other words there is a potentially rather good play lurking inside the frivolous revue trimmings. But playwright Craig clearly knows this world of losers and would-be lovers and losers and would-be lovers should have a splendid night out as they recognise not themselves of course but their friends.
Logan: Calum Callaghan.
Martha: Evanna Lynch.
Jenny: Tessie Orange-Turner.
Darters: Billy Postlethwaite.
Director: Anthony Banks.
Set Designer: Simon Scullion.
Costume Designer: Susan Kulkami.
Lighting Designer: Matt Haskins.
Composition & Sound Design: Ben & Max Ringham.
Movement Director: Nathan M Wright.
Production photographs: Geraint Lewis.