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The Theatreguide.London Review

Bush Theatre    Summer 2012

This first stage play by film and television writer Dominic Savage begins strongly, with believable characters and valid, if not especially original, insights. But it loses its way midway through, goes terribly soft at its core, and limps to a contrived and unsatisfying ending. 

The play opens by cutting between two sets of characters, a pair of street toughs gearing up for their daily job of mugging the rich, and a rich couple celebrating their success and good fortune. Yes, of course it's obvious from five minutes in that the two are inevitably going to clash, but before then Savage paints his pictures well. 

The less interesting of his insights is that there are parallels between the two worlds and the characters' shared hunger for money and pleasure in acquisition. 

More impressive and convincing is the realisation that the criminals are actually less motivated by greed than by hatred blind rage at those who have more than they, so that their real pleasure lies more in depriving the others of their money, jewellery and sense of well-being than in getting the things themselves. 

The two worlds do meet, violently, and at almost that exact moment you can feel the playwright lose his hold on things. He violates the reality he has established to allow someone a mystical experience, and sets up a highly improbable encounter and a completely unbelievable personality change. 

I'm not saying neither of those things could possibly happen, but that Savage doesn't make them dramatically real they're too obviously the playwright manipulating his characters to push them toward a sort of happy ending. A play whose power lay in its unblinking look at an unpleasant reality goes all mushy. 

(Acting as his own director, Savage takes the soppiness even further in the very final seconds of the play, elaborating on his own stage directions to an image of total sentimentality.)

Before those midpoint missteps, Savage's direction is crisp and strong, particularly in drawing a performance of convincing reality and real danger out of Aymen Hamdouchi as one of the toughs. 

Indeed, that character is the one fully conceived figure in the play and the most fully realised performance, with the others the rich couple played by Louise Delamere and Rupert Evans, Jason Maza's apprentice thief and Lorna Brown's mother all really more plot devices than fully drawn characters, so that the actors are to be commended for making as much of them as they do.

Gerald Berkowitz

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