Reviewed – 23rd April 2019
“an edgy and exciting thriller that fully deserves an audience”
Playwright and screenwriter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has had an astonishing career to date, and her feminist rally-cry of a play ‘Emilia’ is currently enjoying a West End transfer at the Vaudeville Theatre. This production is a well-timed revival of her 2015 work ‘The Wasp’, a riveting two-hander with the heart of a Hitchcockian thriller, and enough twists and turns to make any production worth a watch.
Heather (Lucy Pickles) arranges to meet up with old high school pal Carla (Rea Mole) to offer her a job. But not just any job: Heather wants Carla to murder her husband Simon. For £30,000. Carla, expecting her sixth child and living a dead-end life, needs the money, so she agrees. To say more would reveal too much, but the ensuing scenes involve childhood bullying, ex-marital affairs, lies (lots of lies), and a stark choice between kindness and violence. Both women prove to be duplicitous is some way, and it’s gripping to see this intoxicating script play out live.
Directed by Sarah Fox, this production stands on the shoulders of greatness and does good justice to Malcolm’s script. Taking place largely in Heather’s living room, the set design is exquisite, all pastel tones and IKEA furniture – a very adult home. On the wall is Simon’s insect collection, including the all-important tarantula hawk wasp, whose tactic of laying eggs in a tarantula’s abdomen, a tidy metaphor for the ways in which violence and survival intersect.
Pickles and Mole give slightly unsteady performances but will easily grow into these roles. Pickles is especially well suited to Heather, oozing a sophistication that cleverly misdirects the audience enough to make her arch the bigger surprise of the night. Although the drama buzzes long nicely, the ending doesn’t quite have the sting you would expect. Both women certainly have more tactics to play with than were on show last night. That aside, Fox has constructed an edgy and exciting thriller that fully deserves an audience.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by Robert Bettelheim
The Space until 27th April
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