Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 29th May 2019
“Despite its flaws, Flinch is a compelling piece of theatre and it is hard not to get invested in the young couple’s drama”
The comedy Flinch, directed by Rosalind Brody and written by Emma Hemingford, intimately explores the failing relationship between young couple Mark (Joe Reed) and Jessica (Emma Hemingford). Mark works as a trader in the City and Jessica is a struggling actress who has just moved to London to live with Mark after three years of dating. After Mark flinches away when a drunk man (Andrew Armitage) threatens Jessica with a ‘gun-shaped banana’ on their first night in their new flat, issues relating to emasculation, failure and the struggle for intimacy in their relationship are quickly exposed.
The play consists of domestic scenes between the young couple, all of which end in heated arguments. These scenes are separated by brief blackouts and harsh red lighting in which Reed, Hemingford and Armitage move in slow motion enacting several outcomes of Armitage’s fruity attack. In one interlude, Reed heroically saves Hemingford from Armitage’s clutches. In another, Armitage viciously chokes Hemingford with Reed nowhere to be seen. The disparity of these scenes shows just how different the couple remember the night in question and highlights their inability to see things from the other person’s point of view. The lighting for the rest of the play is very bright which perhaps represents the spotlight being shone on this dysfunctional relationship.
Reed and Hemingford have little chemistry which for the most part serves the play well. Mark and Jessica are clearly bad for each other and their views on the world, relationships and the future are wildly different. This lack of chemistry however also made it quite difficult to understand how they had ever been a couple in the first place even when they do reminisce about their early romance. The couple are hugely unlikeable, and it is hard for the audience to be sympathetic to their plight considering the lack of effort on both sides to make things work. Regardless, Reed and Hemingford are strong actors and are at their best when monologuing.
The set is not particularly complex, but the space is used well. A raised square stage is backed by a set of cupboards filled with coats, food, toiletries and books which helps to expand the space beyond the dining room table set at the centre of the stage. This does also however mean that the actors often have their backs to the audience which is mildly frustrating in a play where facial expression is of the upmost importance. In addition, Reed and Hemingford frequently step off the raised stage onto the theatre floor which helps to foster greater intimacy between the audience and the quarrelling couple.
Despite its flaws, Flinch is a compelling piece of theatre and it is hard not to get invested in the young couple’s drama. Flinch is a poignant reminder of how easily things can fall apart and a great advocation for the importance of interpersonal communication.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Photography by Ali Wright
Old Red Lion Theatre until 15th June
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: