(Seen at the afternoon preview performance on 21st November 2015)
Stylized, yet stylish, this is the very embodiment of the British psyche,
even 50 years on. Living on wits, sharp, veiled respect and disrespect bound up
in a highly structured hierarchy. Plus the feeling that you can never be quite
sure of where the solid ground is, nor when the very British "taking the p*ss"
is going to click in. Add a level of sinister fantasy, and its a heady mixture.
Ron Cook as father Max gives the performance of his career as a man
struggling with old age, family relationships and his own weak immorality. Son
Lenny (John Simm) matches him with a man who leaves a trail of slime wherever he
goes. A calibrating Sam (Keith Allen) as a level of basic working endeavour and
Joey (John Macmillan) as an example of limited intellect on the fringes of
sliding downwards offset the pairing beautifully.
Gary Kemp (Teddy) and Gemma Chan (Ruth) may be an odd couple - him a local
man made good at University, her a dubious type of model - yet they manage a
convincing portrayal of a couple with nothing but something keeping them
together - until something better comes along. Maybe.
Jamie Lloyd's direction keeps everything on a hyper-real / surreal basis,
Richard Howell's lighting a superlative final sequence and Soutra Gilmour's
understated set design a triumph for the rawness of the work.
Perhaps sometimes the lack of relaxed humanity - all the actors hold stiff
for much of the proceedings - prevents the meaning of a line having the impact
it might. Still, by holding firm, most of the rest bounce around and embed far
deeper than a more relaxed production might.
An intriguing production of a deep and demented play.