Tag Archives: Robert Chevara

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


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Sex / Crime – 4 Stars


Sex / Crime

The Glory

Reviewed – 12th April 2018


“a fascinating and well-crafted insight”


In a “lovely basement” (correction: “lovely dungeon”) B has paid A a large of amount of money to recreate one of the famous gay serial killer’s murders, with B as the victim. “I’m going to hurt you,” promises A. “Promise me you’ll make me forget who I am,” retorts B. B has a pain threshold of eight and three quarters and has taken all his drugs on the bus. He is not only a fan of the gay serial killer but “an admirer” and he knows every case in perfect detail. But A has insider knowledge. However expectations collide and the two have to decide how far they are willing to go. As the situation simmers, the session makes a U-turn.

This play is a fascinating and well-crafted insight into a taboo part of the fetish scene, questioning the boundaries between pleasure and pain and revealing the extremities of sado-masochism. It is a nuanced and non-stereotyped approach, which deals in real people and real desires without judgement, whilst still delivering a dramatic and intelligent narrative structure. Alexis Gregory’s writing is darkly funny, and successfully addresses his focuses for this show, fetishisation and ‘gay’ serial killers – “we never say ‘heterosexual serial killers’ do we?” asks Gregory in the programme.

Both Alexis Gregory (also the playwright) as B and Jonny Woo as A, deliver fantastic performances. Gregory has a manic energy onstage, somehow infectiously likeable. There is a wonderful juxtaposition between his excitement and the context in which we find him. Woo is cold, professional and apparently impenetrable. They play off each other fantastically, antitheses of each other in many ways, the balance of power tipping between them in a delicate build of tension.

There is a stylised quality to Gregory’s writing style, which works fantastically in the first half of the play but makes the empathy necessary in the second part harder to muster as an audience member. The play lags at this point as a result of this and the change lacks some believability, and the underlying darkness could have been pushed further at this middle point.

The set (Robbie Butler) is wrapped in white plastic and littered with implements of pain and/or pleasure, hammers and full syringes, and is enhanced by Mike Robertson’s lighting design, which reinvents the space over and over as time passes. With loud sounds punctuating sudden blackouts, the violence is well done – not shied away from, but also not gratuitous.

This is a well crafted, well written piece about a topic that is frequently categorised as taboo, delivered by two excellent performers.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Jane Hobson


The Glory London

Sex / Crime

The Glory until 28th April


Also directed by Robert Chevara
Vincent River | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | March 2018


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