Shoreditch Madonna, Soho Theatre, London

Three Nathan Barleys, two ex-lovers and one problem
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The Independent Culture

She may be plotting to have her revenge on him or to disclose a secret, but she also starts partying with the boys. Hodge is completely smitten and could get hurt while Michael secretly loves Nick who is, in turn, besotted with a crazed posh babe called Christina whose boyfriend has just committed suicide.

Unfortunately, as soon as Lenkiewicz's dialogue becomes poetically heightened it is totally unconvincing. And Alexandra Moen's performance as Christina is absolutely excruciating. She is, as they say, extremely easy on the eye. But the poor thing appears to be permanently auditioning for Lady Macbeth's sleep-walking scene, histrionically rubbing her hands. I think Christina was also meant to be sexually mad for it, mincing around in stilettos, seemingly unable to sit down and often crawling around invitingly on her knees. Or did she just have had a shocking case of piles?

Mercifully, Mathias's other improbably good-looking actors aren't just pretty faces, though he encourages melodramatic conflicts. Annis is on top form, totally at ease but also with an edge to her. She is amusingly lived-in too, casually picking her teeth, snorting with drunken laughter and shimmying around, Latin-style, till she's virtually sliding down the walls. Adam Croasdell will surely go far. He manages to be both ardent then unexpectedly feverish and dangerous as Nick, and Lee Ingleby's seemingly wimpy, bumbling Hodge is pricelessly droll and adorable - a surprise romantic hero. The playwright has created a wonderful character here.

Lenkiewicz can write fine naturalistic dialogue when she isn't trying too hard and she is often explosively funny. That is her real forte. Maybe with her next play, the quality will even out. KB

To 6 August, 0870 429 6883