Tag Archives: Vincent River

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

 

Vincent River – 4 Stars

Vincent

Vincent River

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd March 2018

★★★★

“brutal and lyrical, appalling and somehow poetic”

 

When going to a Philip Ridley play you know there will be bleakness, anger and what the critic Aleks Sierz christened In-Yer-Face-Theatre. Vincent River has all that, and some whip-smart comedy to lighten the load. It’s a brilliant, fierce piece of writing, beautifully brought to life in this production by the superb performances of Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy.

Robert Chevara directs with a sense of rhythm and choreography that produces a natural rise and fall of narrative and emotion. The story unfolds against a backdrop of East London locations and a harsh, vicious homophobia that shocks and saddens. The set is a plain room that Anita has just moved into. It is not yet a home, just a place. Nicolai Hart Hansen has judged the mood well with his set and costume design, providing enough of a background to support the story without imposing itself.

Vincent River was written in 2000 and, as Chevara says in the programme notes, ‘it is even more prophetic and prescient now than the it was first produced.’ Hate crime has risen by 29% in the past year, but hate crime against LGBTIQA people has risen by 80%. Also in the notes, Chevara says that Ridley suggests, in this play, ‘that only through honesty can we find absolution.’ And the honesty blazes in both the writing and the performances. It is brutal and lyrical, appalling and somehow poetic. The tension between the characters of Anita and Davey is like a thread of elastic, twisting and pulling through fear, distrust, sexuality, disgust and a kind of acceptance. The connection between Jameson and Mahy is palpable, as their characters navigate the minefield of emotions, eventually finding the honesty that both characters need.

Thomas Mahy is a recent graduate of Drama Centre London, and is absolutely equal to the challenge of acting with the vastly more experienced Louise Jameson, who is known for her illustrious TV roles (most notably Doctor Who’s assistant Leela in the 70s), not to mention a theatre career that has taken her to the RSC and the National Theatre. It’s good to see a new actor clearly on the way to a promising career.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by David Monteith Hodge

 


Vincent River

Park Theatre until 14th April

 

 

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