OLYMPILADS – Theatre N16

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Theatre N16, London – until 26 August 2017
Guest reviewer: Nastazja Somers

Andrew Maddock, the writer behind the hugely successful IN/OUT (a feeling) has a great talent for creating fully developed and multi-layered characters that don’t come from privileged backgrounds. Not often enough do we see stories of working class people explored beyond the mundane on stage. Directed by Niall Phillips, OLYMPILADS, Maddock’s new play is set in Wembley during the 2012 Olympics. It examines the lives of three siblings, all of whom dream of running away from their fears.

Darren (Nebiu Samuel) needs new trainers. He is going to beat Usain Bolt, there is no doubt about it. This is his chance to show everyone that all his years of training have not gone to waste. In the meantime, his brother Sim (Rhys Yates) reaches out to their estranged sister Abi (Michelle Barwood) to seek reconciliation and help before Darren’s mental health issues become too much to handle.

The cast of three fully inhabit the world of the play and all of them deliver outstanding performances, but it is Barwood who, with both her vulnerability and the ability to live truthfully in the moment, creates a fully fleshed out character. Unfortunately, the set design, a running track, does not help the actors in any way. The direction is not specific enough to carry them through the scene transitions.

Maddock serves a lot of weighty material to his audiences in this short piece, which runs just under an hour. Fast-paced, dialogue-focused OLYMPILADS has the potential of being a slick production, but there are many too moments that are brushed over and not given enough direction. The main subject of the piece, Darren’s mental health issues, does not receive the attention it needs. OLYMPILADS could benefit from more rehearsal and development in terms of production quality.

OLYMPILADS runs through 26 August.

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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.