Riverside Studios, London W6
Opened 10 May, 2000

When one partner in a relationship says it's over and the other says it isn't, it's the one who says it is that's right. We have more or less all of us learnt this bitter lesson at some point in our lives; there is not really much need for a play which, as DB Productions' Boxed does at the Riverside Studios, restates the point without bringing any new insights to the subject.

The greatest novelty in this 75-minute piece is that Chris, revisiting Suzie after six months of separation following the break-up of a five-year relationship, does not in fact succumb to the generic drama cliché of raping her before wandering out disconsolately. The second greatest novelty is that, in the role of Chris, director Ray Kilby has engaged Mark Homer, formerly known as Tony Hills in EastEnders. Homer's name and face were enough to attract a clutch of his former Walford colleagues on the press night, but few others.

He and Carolina Giammetta as Suzie give solid, plausible performances... more plausible than the script deserves. It is credited jointly to the two of them and Kilby, suggesting a devised piece, and indeed it has something of the pointlessness of all too many such projects. Chris drops by Suzie's flat; she is suspicious, but they share a few happy recollections before moving into the phase of raw need and reluctant but firm rejection. Both performances are finely judged, but the press-night claque proved all too ready to laugh at a number of awkwardly ambiguous moments, making it difficult to judge exactly what was intended. Perhaps nothing more was intended than to maintain Kilby's theatrical CV (he is primarily a screen director) after his debut with Dirty Boggers. But whilst Boxed has something of the atmosphere of a tightly focused single-episode "bubble" off a major soap series, as a piece of theatre it is frankly dull.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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