One For Sorrow, Jermyn St London, 3***: William Russell



by Cordelia Lynn.


Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1 8AS to 11 August 2018.

Mon-Sat 7.45 pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm/

Runs 2 hr 30 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7565 5000

Review: William Russell 27 June.

Terror in the streets invading the home

There has been a terrorist outrage somewhere in London. A concert venue has been stormed, people are held hostage, there are bombers inside the building, and the authorities are besieging it. John (Irfan Shamji), a young Asian man is running away from the scene. In a comfortable suburban home a nice liberal thinking family – parents, two young daughters – are sitting down to dinner. They know something terrible is taking place – the television is on – but where they are is safe, although a niece is among those trapped in the building.

Imogen (Pearl Chanda) the idealistic elder daughter responds to Open Door, one of those on line mobile phone hashtag offers of safety, and John accepts – but is he just an innocent young man fleeing danger or is he something more? Why does he refuse to take off his parka? Is he hiding something? He reveals he makes robots for a start, which is hardly an every day job. He is opaque, enigmatic, disturbing – and the daughters find him fascinating.

Cordelia Lynn’s play is never less than interesting, but there are too many conversations in which people never finish sentences, too many glasses of wine are consumed – drinks are a stage prop which can be abused – and the disintegrating family’s reactions never quite convince. Chloe (Kitty Archer), the younger daughter is completely irresponsible seeing everything as a thrill, grasping none of the dangers involved even when that trapped cousin dies as the building is stormed.


The playing is good, and the parents, smug, suburbanites are beautifully caught by Sarah Woodward and Neil Dudgeon, as they flail around as their world collapses. So too does their home as in act two the walls start to seep water and crack ominously. It is an impressive illusion but the symbolism gets marred by the question of how they do it – not a good thing for any play.

The enigmatic John is maybe not as intriguing a figure as he might be and while the family do get that parka off, they do not think to look at his rucksack so we never know whether he was dangerous or just fleeing the danger the fact he is a British Asian meant he was facing on the streets. Cordelia Lynn has written a play for today but somehow it doesn’t quite work in spite of director James Macdonald’s efforts to keep the audience wondering – and afraid.

Emma: Sarah Woodward.

Imogen: Pearl Chanda.

Bill: Neil Dudgeon.

Chloe: Kitty Archer.

John Irfan Shamji.

Director: James Macdonald.

Designer: Laura Hopkins.

Lighting Designer: Guy Hoare.

Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim.

Costume Supervisor: Milli Bhatia.

Scenic Artist: Morwenna Holttum.

Photograph: © Johan Personn.


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