Review: Vincent River
Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy - photo by Scott Rylander
Louise Jameson - Anita
Thomas Mahy - Davey
Davey has seen something he can never forget.
Anita has been forced to flee her home.
Tonight, they meet for the first time ... and their lives will change forever.
Philip Ridley's modern classic was a huge success when it premiered at the Hampstead Theatre in 2000, and a West End smash in 2007.
Thrilling, heartbreaking and darkly humorous by turns, it is now seen as one of the most powerful explorations of hate crime - and society's need to crush 'difference' - ever written.
Review: ActDrop reviewed this play (with the same cast) when it ran at the Park Theatre - read Peter Brown's 5 star review here.
Robert Chevara's superb production of Philip Ridley's play had a run at the Park Theatre just over a year ago.
The sheer quality of the performances together with the continuing relevance of Mr Ridley's affecting work was almost bound to result in this West End transfer.
So here we find the same actors reprising their compelling roles - Louise Jameson as Anita and Thomas Mahy as Davey.
Thomas Mahy and Louise Jameson - photo by Scott Rylander
Now you might think that re-creating a show at a different theatre would be a relatively simple enough task for actors and director alike.
But with a year having gone by since their last outing together, and with a new theatre to play in, I don't think it was a mere piece of cake to pick up where they left off.
For one thing, here in Trafalgar Studios' smaller auditorium, there's less room for the actors to work in.
But that turns out to be as much a dramatic blessing as anything, providing an even more intense setting that locates the audience in the room where the action all takes place - at arm's length from the characters, where we almost feel their breath on our faces.
The result is an even more electric emotional journey than I experienced at the Park Theatre.
I don't know if some of the emotions which surfaced earlier in the day, just down the road in Downing Street, were still hanging around in the air, but at a couple of particularly plaintive moments I felt the onset of a tear - unusual for a hard-bitten critic, I readily admit.
The story revolves around the brutal murder of Anita's son, Vincent.
Thanks to newspaper stories about her son and the circumstances of his death, Anita has been forced to leave her home and has just moved into new accommodation where we find her still with boxes to unpack.
It's at this point when a young man, Davey, who has been following Anita since Vincent's death, arrives at her flat and a confrontation ensues leading to revelations about the murder which turns out to be an abominably shocking hate crime.
Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy give definitive and exemplary portrayals of these two anguished characters, both traumatised by Vincent's murder - Anita seeking clarity about exactly what happened to her son and Davey seeking to unburden himself of guilt and share his grief.
Louise Jameson as Anita - photo by Scott Rylander
Particularly heartbreaking, yet totally riveting, is Thomas Mahy's final frantic disclosure - delivered flawlessly at breathless, breakneck speed.
Though society has, at least in some ways, moved on since Mr Ridley wrote Vincent River, his play still bristles with powerful relevance that offers an urgent warning.
For what the play reveals is not merely the terrible brutality of hate crime and its perpetrators, but the complicity of bystanders through inaction.
Vincent River thus reminds us that we all have a continuing part to play in ensuring that hate crime is eradicated from our societies.
Even after a pause of a year, this production rises to the challenge the new venue presents, achieving an even more powerful outcome than its earlier run and still proving to be first-rate, unmissable drama.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Trafalgar Studios
Our show listing for Vincent River
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