Garrick Theatre, London WC2
Opened 15 March, 2002

*** Three young screen stars make an impression

Kenneth Lonergan's play slumps badly in the final stretch, but Jake Gyllenhaal's performance in particular is marvellous.

Teenage nerd Warren, kicked out by his father, takes refuge in the one-room flat of his best friend, the streetwise and contemptuous Dennis, along with $15,000 which Warren stole from home. Over the course of a weekend the boys screw up a sizeable cocaine deal and Warren gets together with the edgy, defensive-aggressive Jessica.

Lonergan's play canters along nicely in period mode (albeit with a few anachronisms), clearly signalling with the title that he is casting a wry glance back on the current power generation's dysfunctional origins. As Jessica, Anna Paquin gives a tight, assured performance, but the revelation is Gyllenhall as Warren: at first he seems uneasy, until you realise that this is very precise characterisation which he continues and modulates skilfully through the play. It is incredible that this is his stage début. Hayden Christensen veers closest towards bravura, especially in the final half-hour. This is where Lonergan loses control of the plot, falling back on a lengthy monologue in which Dennis confesses that he too is how he is because of feelings of inadequacy. Then the play doesn't so much end as just stop.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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