Tag Archives: Jonathan Evans

The Talented Mr Ripley
★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

Talented Mr Ripley

The Talented Mr Ripley

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 22nd May 2019

★★★★

 

“Dynamic, thrilling and imaginative”

 

We first see Tom Ripley, clicking away at his typewriter keys, with his back to us. Turning around he asks us “Have you ever had the feeling you are being watched?” It is a leitmotif that bookends the show and many of the scenes within; and its delivery sets the scene, tearing down the fourth wall and drawing us completely into the mind of the character. For the next two hours we are hooked.

The slightly unsettling thing about witnessing The Faction’s “The Talented Mr Ripley” at Wilton’s Music Hall (and indeed reading Patricia Highsmith’s original 1955 novel) is how much you find yourself rooting for a double murderer. You want him to win – to get away with it. Orphaned and brought up by a cold, judgemental aunt, he is quite vulnerable, starry-eyed and charmingly naïve. But also, he is clever and able to outwit all around him, escaping from scrapes with flair and downright good luck. Christopher Hughes, as Ripley, plays on this dichotomy with sheer brilliance. A stunning performance during which he never leaves the stage, and during which you cannot keep your eyes off him.

But for all the attention Hughes attracts, there is still plenty of focus on the full ensemble in this tour de force of storytelling, particularly Luke Shaw as the shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf who sets the wheels of Ripley’s adventures in motion. Herbert’s son, Dickie, is living it up in Italy showing no signs of coming home. Mistakenly believing Ripley to be a close friend of Dickie’s he offers him an all expenses paid trip to persuade the wayward son to return to the roost. Eyeing a way out of the mess his life has become in America (and of course a free holiday), Ripley readily accepts and unwittingly takes his first step onto his murderous journey. A trail that winds dangerously through the plot twists with a white-knuckle intensity.

Christopher York is captivating as Dickie, and with Natasha Rickman’s Marge; the triangle is complete, although with Ripley kept on the margins rather than fully being allowed to steal into the lifestyle he so covets. So instead he steals lives and identities. Mark Leipacher’s direction keeps us on our toes, adding further twists into the already knotted narrative. Minor characters morph into shadowy figures that prey on Ripley’s paranoia and conscience. The action is occasionally brought to a halt with the cry of “Cut!” and the scene replayed with the outcome Ripley wants. He is, after all, in control, though the double-take suggests that he’s not a villain. He’s just busking it really – making it up as he goes along.

But that definitely can’t be said of this company’s inventive interpretation of the story. This is undoubtedly finely thought out. Dynamic, thrilling and imaginative.

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Richard Davenport

 


The Talented Mr Ripley

Wilton’s Music Hall until 25th May

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Songs For Nobodies | ★★★★ | March 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★½ | June 2018
Sancho – An act of Remembrance | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Vincent River
★★★★

Trafalgar Studios

Vincent River

Vincent River

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 21st May 2019

★★★★

 

“Mahy’s performance perfectly condenses an unstable and volatile mix of anger, vulnerability, belligerence and dependence”

 

Philip Ridley is a playwright whose finger is always on the pulse, and even though “Vincent River” was written at the birth of this century it has lost none of its punch. Unfortunately, this has as much to do with how slowly society changes as it does with the timeless quality of the writing. During the last five years, homophobic hate crime has reportedly been rising. What is seldom reported is the aftermath: the personal story that this play heart-breakingly throws into the spotlight.

Anita is in her new flat, having been forced to flee her previous home. A youth has wandered in through the door into her living room. He is Davey, wearing a black hoodie, a black eye and an even darker obsession with Anita whom he has been stalking for months; ever since Anita’s son, Vincent, was murdered by thugs in a disused railway station’s toilet. Over the next eighty minutes, these two characters fight to understand themselves and each other. Played out in real time the audience are drawn in so much that we feel like the third character in this drama.

The rhythm and melody of Ridley’s dialogue is a gift for the two actors, and under the assured direction of Robert Chevara, the pulse never wavers. Thomas Mahy plays Davey like a dangerous dog whose threat of menace and aggression can be swiftly curbed with a flash of Anita’s bared teeth. Mahy’s performance perfectly condenses an unstable and volatile mix of anger, vulnerability, belligerence and dependence. Yet the undoubted force that drives this piece is the charismatic Louise Jameson, with her matchlessly poignant portrayal of a mother suffering her worst nightmare. A naked study of grief for the loss of a son that is believable throughout. Her raw pain is the skeleton upon which she drapes cloaks of humour, scorn and even tenderness. We are riveted right up to the climax when she finally rips through her armour with a blood curdling howl.

Jameson and Mahy circle each other like wild cats on Nicolai Hart Hansen’s simple and effective set that conveys Anita’s new flat with just a sofa, some unpacked boxes and quite a few opened bottles of gin. But beneath the humdrum stillness of the surroundings runs the vicious undercurrent of Vincent’s murder. The overall effect is hypnotic and electrifying. This is one of Ridley’s more accessible scripts, rooted in reality rather than veering off into the surreal promiscuity or gothic gratuitousness he is known for. But it is no less provocative – in fact its naturalism strengthens the message. The honesty of these performers makes us question the honesty with which we lead our own lives. Truth hurts – but we need that pain in order to start the healing process.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Scott Rylander

 


Vincent River

Trafalgar Studios until 22nd June

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Silk Road | ★★★★ | August 2018
Dust | ★★★★★ | September 2018
A Guide for the Homesick | ★★★ | October 2018
Hot Gay Time Machine | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Coming Clean | ★★★★ | January 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★ | February 2019
Soul Sessions | ★★★★ | February 2019
A Hundred Words For Snow | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Admissions | ★★★ | March 2019
Scary Bikers | ★★★★ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com