Review - Angry at Southwark Playhouse
"All the world's a stage", Shakespeare once wisely had Jacques tell someone in As You Like It. "And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."
In Philip Ridley's latest by turns playful, teasing and taunting set of monologues, two actors share six acts. And from show to show, they will perform different ones, so in fact they have to know them all.
It's a demanding structure, but it keeps the actors on their toes, I'm sure. And Ridley's stories demand that the audience pay attention, too, as these alternately menacing, cryptic and creepy stories unfold.
At the performance reviewed, each actor had one main set piece folded into a set of two shorter ones each. It's hard to dislodge the feeling that it sometimes seems like a drama school showcase for actors to show their wares and versatility as a result, and you can imagine that some of these shorter pieces will be used for just that.
The intense, wary Tyrone Huntley - best known for his appearances in musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Dreamgirls - tells a haunting story of an encounter in Victoria Park that is laced with strangeness and unease.
Georgie Henley, new to the stage, brings a confident ease to the telling of the longest piece Air, which starts out as a conventional story of a bookshop assistant who takes over the running of the shop and finds herself partnering up with a regular customer - until the world that they knew starts disintegrating into riots and they have to flee. This apocalyptic fantasy is standard Ridley terrain.
The power comes from the command of the actors over both the material and the audience. It is also evocatively staged by director Max Lindsay in a sunken stage, over which is hung a canopy of neon lights that flicker and change colour throughout.