Shook, Samuel Bailey, Southwark Playhouse, London, to 23rd November 2019****: Mark Courtice

Southwark Playhouse
77-85 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6BD
020 7407 0234

**** 4 stars

30 OCT – 23 NOV 2019
Start Time 8pm
Matinee Starts 3:30pm

Running Time 95 mins

Price £22 | £18 concessions | All previews £14

George Turvey
Jasmine Swan
Lighting Designer
Johanna Town
Sound Designer
Richard Hammarton
Assistant Director
Lisa Diveney

Cracking script given tight and focussed treatment

In a shabby room behind a steel door three young men scuffle and talk. They are the unpromising material for a parenting class in a Young Offenders Institution. As they are joined by teacher Grace, it’s clear that it’ll be a long time before they will be putting their newly acquired nappy changing skills to use. They aren’t going anywhere – unless it’s another prison. Their commitment isn’t to be taken for granted either – as one says “I’d rather be doing woodwork”

Bailey’s script is cracking. The chaos of these lives is reflected in bursts of anger, violence and sudden surprising vulnerability. It’s driven by the sharp wit of desperate people keeping their own particular hell at bay as well as the revealing moments when the smart remark is just not enough. Time is given to these young men not just to speak but also to do; the only danger here is that there are moments when the pace feels too slow.

The performances are first rate. As the frenetic Cain Josh Finnan is sometimes caught with the rictus of laugh held just too long while a memory of pain surfaces. He knows much more than he lets on about himself and it hurts when he has to admit it. Josef Davies‘s Jonjo is terrific too – full of quiet pathos, unshowy and truthful. As the third of the inmates Ivan Oyik makes Riyad’s struggle to find redemption as much physical as verbal. A clever and subtle performance from Andrea Hall makes the very best of the underwritten Grace.

Turvey’s production is tight and focussed, helped by the gloomy set that in a tiny space creates a small haven while creating a believable sense of danger beyond that door, which seems not just to be locking in but also keeping out.


Josef Davies (Jonjo)
Josh Finan (Cain)
Andrea Hall (Grace)
Ivan Oyik (Riyad)




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