By Kenneth Emsom.
The Old Red Lion theatre, 418 St John Street, Angel, London EC1V 4NJ to 21 April 2018.
Tues-Sat 7.30 pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 15 mins No interval.
TIUCKETS: 0333 012 4963
Review: William Russell 6 April
The happiest days of your lives?
This is a provocative and well performed play about schooldays and what comes after – the Mr Big of the football field is not necessarily Mr Big in the afterlife. Kev (Mark Weinman) is the football hero, Lisa (Madison Clare) is his girlfriend who appears to put it out for the boys, or at least is promising to do so, Ben (Thomas Coombes) is the one who gets roughed up but prospers as an adult, and Jack (Louis Greatorex) is his best mate, possibly in every sense, a survivor who gets into a mess.
It is a bit of a muddle to start with as the opening scenes consist of a series of chopped up speeches from each in turn which are hard to follow, but gradually things resolve themselves and how to survive your schooldays – or not – is revealed. It is actually quite shocking – the plastic of the title is a discarded carrier bag which seems to lie there pointlessly until put to considerable dramatic use.
Louis Greatorex is impressive as the survivor who does not survive, Madison Clare makes Lisa a kind of Lolita of the playground who knows her power, Thomas Coombes suffers palpable agonies as the hapless bullied Ben and Mark Weinman creates a believable guy whose best days on the football field are behind him.
It all drowns in words in an attempt to be poetic at times, but there remains plenty to talk about afterwards, one of the things a play should do, and one watches. The portraits of how painful it is to grow up are spot on; Josh Roche has directed it with flair; and there is an intriguing set – lots of wires at the end of which are lights that change colour on demand. Just what they add up to is a mystery perhaps but it is an effective piece of minimalist stage design.
Jack: Louis Greatorex.
Lisa: Madison Clare.
Kev: Mark Weinman.
Ben: Thomas Coombes.
Director: Josh Roche.
Design: Sophie Thomas.
Lighting: Peter Small.
Sound: Kieran Lucas.