LOVE AND MONEY. To 16 December.


by Dennis Kelly

Royal Exchange Studio To 11 November
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Thu 2.30pm & Sat 4pm
Post-show discussion 9 Nov 7.30pm
then Young Vic Theatre London (Maria auditorium) 16 November-16 December 2006
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat & 29 Nov, 13 Dec 4pm
Runs 1hr 30min No interval

TICKETS: 0161 833 9833 (Manchester)
020 7928 6363 (50p discount per tickets online)
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 November

Love, money, pain, death in an assured mix.
I’d misremembered the title of Dennis Kelly’s new play as ‘Love and Death’, which isn’t inappropriate as its shortish span includes several accounts of deliberate killings. But Kelly’s is the right title, for money is the deathly antithesis of the joy love can bring, as is mortality itself.

Kelly’s early Debris worked through monologues, and this play’s book-ended by a husband and wife’s solo speeches. Years separate them, as they do innocence from experience. But Kelly’s action unravels, obliquely, backwards, so audiences themselves are denied any innocence. No-one’s what they first seem, and tantalising references suggest things about characters we’ve met without firmly fixing to them.

Money casts a dark shadow over those who make it, those who need it and one who spends it recklessly. Love deforms into an awareness of someone as a pile of debts. Bereavement curdles into jealous rage at being outdone in ostentation of grief. And, as time unwinds, there’s an all-too-clear central image of credit-abusing Jess sat quietly while others elaborate lay a table.

Kelly has the perfect partner in director Matthew Dunster, whose own writing has similar qualities of solidity resonating beyond immediate realities. Such a mood’s reflected in the setting, two walls with compartments opening up to reveal a computer, TV, bed, table and other material items waiting to be brought (or bought) into characters’ lives. Actors set the scene for other characters, never having the brisk neutrality of stage management. You’re aware these are actors in the half-light, people impacting on others’ lives.

Sombre though the material us, by letting the darkness arise through implication and implications connecting apparently disparate scenes, Kelly often allows lightness in moments. Dunster captures all these, with their consequent souring as they fit into the emerging pattern.

There’s an all-out excellent cast, including Paul Moriarty’s double as solid-citizen and jagged-voiced pornographer through Claudie Blakley’s innocence and sophistication, evoked through similar voice patterns carefully shaded, to Kellie Bright’s youthful optimism gradually extruding as she recedes behind her grim future and John Kirk, whose opening duologue by e-mail is a splendidly-judged mix of initial light and increasing seriousness.

Mother/2: Joanna Bacon
Father/3/Duncan: Paul Moriarty
David/5: John Kirk
Jess: Kellie Bright
Val/4/Debbie: Claudie Blakley
Paul/1/Doctor: Graeme Hawley

Director: Matthew Dunster
Designer: Anna Fleischle
Lighting: Lucy Carter
Sound: Ian Dickinson
Music: Olly Fox
Assistant director: Chris Meads

2006-11-06 09:29:07

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