Precious Little Talent, Trafalgar Studios, London
Tuesday 12 April 2011
Playwright Ella Hickson has been quietly making a name for herself, and this, her second play, smartly directed by James Dacre in the smaller of the Trafalgar studios, is a good indicator of her talent.
Even the noise of a Judy Garland song barging into a quiet monologue from the larger venue next door did little to shake the concentration of the audience; what exactly, we wanted to know, was the problem between 23-year-old graduate Joey (Olivia Hallinan, devastatingly pretty) and her ailing father, retired professor George (Ian Gelder)?
To be truthful, we were still wondering at the end of the play, but Hickson's writing is so spare and sly that you don't care; or, rather, you do, but not too much. George is mulling over the marriage that went wrong when a rival semantics academic, a Muslim, stole his wife. His 19-year-old neighbour-cum-carer, Sam (Anthony Welsh, confident and likeable), has designs on Olivia, having met her by chance on the rooftop of the Manhattan apartment building.
At first, you think the play will follow the example of David Greig's Midsummer, charting a whirlwind romance, as Sam whisks Joey on a dash to Grand Central Station. The strains of the Moonlight Sonata morph into canned music and the city lights twinkle on Lucy Osborne's clever design.
That first scene, once George has appeared, is played again from Joey's point of view, and the relationship never settles into one or the other's fixed view of it. This is original writing, and the rest of the 90-minute play develops the give and take between all three characters over the Christmas holiday, complete with the Queen's speech, a package of pink Christmas trees, and games of chess.
The acting has the requisite lightness of touch, with Gelder's old curmudgeon placing the sparring of Sam and Joey into an engaging, entertaining relief.
To 30 April (0844 871 7632)
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS