what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, review

 

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The Independent Culture

In this subtle two-hander on at the Brighton Festival, Andy Smith plays a version of himself - a comfortable middle-aged, middle-class man with a young family, doing a pHD in theatre.

He’s visited by an old friend - played by co-writer Tim Crouch, presumably in an invented role: restless, self-destructive, cynical, hard-drinking.

We slip between Smith’s narration of events, read from a script, and stilted, tense dialogue between the two men - initially, declared out to the front, though the action slowly becomes more responsive.

Smith also addresses the audience (the lights are up throughout), stating his enjoyment - and the power - of “just being together with some people in a room.”

We’re encouraged to shake hands with our neighbours, slip off our shoes. And the story is interspersed with academic quotes on theatre, its radical potential as a place where we can “really connect”. It’s all self-reflexive food for thought - yet the irony is, within the world of the play, Smith is failing to even really connect with one of his oldest pals.

A chamber piece, what happens… is less formally clever or emotionally punching then some of Crouch’s work, although it is peppered with laughs thanks to his brilliantly deadpan delivery. Slow and thoughtful throughout, it is also ultimately quietly affecting.

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