Georgia Fitchís play was first seen at the Bush in a brief run in 2002. It sold out, got rave reviews and now returns after a similarly successful visit to Japan earlier this month. Yet on the face of it, thereís nothing extraordinary about the show: bare stage, two people talking, thatís it. What is it, then, that makes this modern urban love-and-drugs story work so extraordinarily well?
Leigh is a single mother, working in local government; also thirtysomething, Angel has been to both prison and university, and is now making ends meet by dealing drugs in a small way. They meet; they click, eventually; and the rest is... yes, it is history. Because we first meet them looking back on their time together, jumping on each otherís words and each giving matters their personal perspective.
However, this isnít a play where we find ďthe truthĒ by sifting through two partial, slanted personal accounts. Indeed, this is where Fitch scores: she manages to avoid both moralising and the callous dispassion thatís usually the only alternative these days. As Leighís erotic fixation with Angel shades into a kind of lust for the various stuff he peddles, the writing shows sympathy and compassion for both.
Fiona Bell manages somehow to go from pert to haggard within 70 minutes all spent onstage, as Leigh spirals into confused, incoherent addiction. Meanwhile, Angel may seem too cautious, but Mark Monero shows that heís really just trying to find a path through all the social and emotional clutter. Nor does Fitch make any artificial drama out of the fact that Leigh is white and Angel black. Itís just there.
The writing mixes storytelling, monologue, dialogue... it even has the characters occasionally recite stage directions as they perform the actions. This keeps ringing the changes on what would otherwise be a dangerously static approach to presenting such material. Together with the skill at catching real speech and the equal sympathy for both parties, it makes for a welcome, mature take on this kind of story.
Written for Teletext.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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