THEATRE: Pharmaceutical Migraines / Double D - Etcetera, London NW1

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The Independent Culture
In the programme for Pharmaceutical Migraines Matthew Westwood writes: 'Within the 'big world', there are individual 'mini-worlds' - each of us has their own. In order for the big worlds to exist, there needs to be the mini-worlds as one forms the other. My aim here is not to ignore the big ponds in life with their big fish, but to acknowledge the existences (however tedious) of the small ponds and their small fish.'

Small ponds, deep waters, eh? Not really: Pharmaceutical Migraines is just an overlong monologue delivered by the downtrodden assistant on a pharmacy's perfume counter, its sub-Bennett echoes amplified from time to time when Liz Brimilcombe breaks into a Patricia Routledge impression. Westwood's principled desire to write about 'tedious' lives sounds sympathetic, but it's hard to see the point: he doesn't offer fresh insights, and Wendy is a vacuous stereotype.

Double D covers the same empty territory, but Westwood handles dialogue more confidently than soliloquy, and the characters are better-observed. Jan Graveson and Charlotte Bellamy are convincing as the intellectually frustrated Trudi and her cheerfully hedonistic friend Laurel. It's more fun than Pharmaceutical Migraines, though not necessarily for the non-smoker: a lot of cigarettes get smoked in a cramped space.

Box office: 071-482 4857.

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