Incomplete and Random..., Royal Court Upstairs, London

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The Independent Culture

Is everybody mad? Joey initially seems like, well, an ordinary Joe, in David Eldridge's new play, Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness. As portrayed by Shaun Dingwall, he is a deceptively chirpy thirtysomething doing some mentoring with a school kid called Trevor. His clumsy attempts to bond are mildly comical. Gradually, though, it's clear Joey is undergoing some sort of mental breakdown. His mother has died, he's bust up with his fiancée, and he is at loggerheads with his sour dad who has remarried. He is obsessed with Marvin Gaye, with oddments of history and with fault lines. He talks in broken sentences and non-sequiturs. Time is jumbled up, as if we're inside his head, with past and present, fact and fantasy becoming entangled. At points, you can't be sure if he has murdered Trevor or saved his life - or feverously imagined both. The boy's mother (Tanya Moodie) believes he has been killed by bullies.

Is everybody mad? Joey initially seems like, well, an ordinary Joe, in David Eldridge's new play, Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness. As portrayed by Shaun Dingwall, he is a deceptively chirpy thirtysomething doing some mentoring with a school kid called Trevor. His clumsy attempts to bond are mildly comical. Gradually, though, it's clear Joey is undergoing some sort of mental breakdown. His mother has died, he's bust up with his fiancée, and he is at loggerheads with his sour dad who has remarried. He is obsessed with Marvin Gaye, with oddments of history and with fault lines. He talks in broken sentences and non-sequiturs. Time is jumbled up, as if we're inside his head, with past and present, fact and fantasy becoming entangled. At points, you can't be sure if he has murdered Trevor or saved his life - or feverously imagined both. The boy's mother (Tanya Moodie) believes he has been killed by bullies.

Some of the longer monologues drag, several characters remain underdeveloped and Tom Georgeson is relentlessly surly as Joey's dad. All the same, Sean Holmes's production, with everybody's paths crossing in a claustrophobic blue-black box, is swift and disturbing. Heshima Thompson, making an outstandingly assured debut as Trevor, flicks between shy sweetness and foul-mouthed assaults, and he sings electrifyingly. Even if there's more method than real madness to the experimental structuring, this is an interesting study in mental disintegration.

To Saturday. 020 7565 5001

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