Rainbow colours and hopes of a brighter future get a fleeting, illusory foot in the door in this beautifully acted yet ultimately bleak new play by newcomer Simon Farquhar. Directed with quiet acumen by Richard Wilson, the action is set in a grim, grey Aberdeen tower block where a one-night stand looks as if it might turn into a comic romance.
Joe McFadden's youthful, scruffy Keith and Dawn Steele's reeling drunk Shazza stumble into his shabby flat, devour a couple of take-away pies then get chatting and snogging on the sofa - with her tarty image endearingly wrecked as she peels off her stiletto boots and lolls back in one wrinkled sock. He is patently smitten, lonely and keen to see her again. However, she is a more hard-bitten ladette, perhaps really nasty, suddenly switching into S&M porn mode and just as suddenly, after sex, heading for the door - though she will meet him again.
Some Royal Court regulars may feel they've seen this before: a sink-estate drama, featuring drink, drugs, mental instability and nasty mutilations. Kinky shockers are nothing new at this address either. Yet Wilson's cast, including Clive Russell as Keith's whisky-slugging neighbour, capture the humour and touching ordinariness of these people, bringing out their innate warmth as much as their obsessive and depressive streaks. There are some obtrusively long and loaded speeches, but a subtle menacing suspense pervades too, with lots of small but sharp plot twists and visceral surprises never coming from quite the direction you predicted. McFadden, after being in two lousy West End pantos, is excellent here, and Steele is superb, giving a performance that's full of hilariously unladylike, acutely observed details. A name to watch.
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