Hope Theatre, London – to 23 April 2022
Guest reviewer: Debra Stottor
A group of college friends organise a reunion dinner. So far, so normal. One is busy cooking in the kitchen, three – including the ‘outsider’ Georgia (Holly McComish), recently engaged to Chris (Cameron Wilson) – are chatting in the dining room, the other is late, not replying to text messages from girlfriend Anna (Hattie Kemish) or answering his phone. Again, so far, so normal.
As the evening progresses, however, cracks appear. Dark secrets are revealed, differences of opinion surface, the self-absorbed and entirely oblivious Georgia manages to irritate pretty much everyone – and still the latecomer fails to materialise.
The dénouement is startling, all the more so as it is delivered in deadpan, matter-of-fact style by Liz (Bethany Monk-Lane). What happens next pivots the play from a relatively straightforward, well-scripted comedy-drama to something altogether darker and more surreal. A difficult and life-changing decision is reached. And there are consequences.
This is where we reach the central theme of the play: justice and who gets to decide what it is. It’s also where the audience is challenged almost as much as the cast themselves. I say almost – apparently, no two performances will be the same, though we don’t know to what extent, the performers given the chance to create a unique theatrical experience every night. The audience is swept up in a whirlwind of emotional twists, witnesses to a macabre turn of events – it’s compelling and disturbing, definitely not one for the faint-hearted.
Writer and co-producer Sam Smithson wrote A Good Time Was Had By All during lockdown, never expecting it to actually be performed. As he says: “The play could only exist in my head … It didn’t matter how it was going to work because, to me, it was never going to happen.” But happen it has, and the result is a play that will linger in the memory long after the journey home, a great script and an impressive ensemble cast who impress with their sharp delivery and impeccable timing.
A Good Time Was Had By All is a Not Quite Ready production, a radical theatre company founded in 2018 with the aim of producing daring new writing that “challenges the forms, narratives and content of commercial theatre” and of providing opportunities for artists at the beginning of their careers.
Adblock test (Why?)
‘The audience is swept up in a whirlwind of emotional twists & a macabre turn’: @FairyPowered on @ReadyQuite’s comedy-drama A Good Time Was Had by All at @TheHopeTheatre til 23 Apr. ★★★★ #AGoodTime #OffWestEnd #theatrereviews