The Vaults – until 25 February 2018
John O’Donovan’s two-hander v returns to London as part of this year’s Vault Festival.
It enjoyed an Off West End Award-nominated run last year and comes fresh from a four-week stint in Dublin and west Ireland. O’Donovan was part of the Old Vic 12 in 2016-17, a scheme that supports the development of emerging artists through opportunities such as workshops, collaboration and mentoring from industry experts.
The play sees Mikey and Casey up on a rooftop, trying to hide from the Guards. They’ve just committed a couple of quite reckless robberies (for very little gain) at a time when Mikey should really be laying low – he’s already in a bit of trouble, and this could land him with a jail sentence. They soon relax when they dip into the ounce of cocaine Mikey found during one of their raids (it actually belongs to Bobby, Casey’s mum’s boyfriend), though it starts to seem as if Casey has another reason to be a bit restless…
O’Donovan’s script sets out an unconventional love story, slowly teasing out details of the pair’s history and the troubles they each face in a very natural way. It’s very funny – Mikey, in particular, has some great one-liners (“Concussion is only a problem if you have a brain to damage”) – but at the heart of it is a moving tale about love in the face of misunderstanding & oppression, and the effect it can have on your personality.
The most striking thing when you get into the auditorium is Georgia de Grey’s set design. The jeopardy of the boys’ plan is brought sharply into focus, as a reproduction of a sloping suburban house roof takes up the performance space – complete with chimney and guttering. It’s an atmospheric setting, added to by lighting design from Derek Anderson alongside Jon McLeod’s sound design & compositions; the everyday sound & vision of the garden lights (and the blues & twos) combines fantastically with the more evocative soundscape & moody lighting.
Josh Williams and Alan Mahon are excellent as Casey and Mikey. The characters are not quite polar opposites, but it’s clear that they make a great partnership in spite of any differences in their outlooks and families.
Williams portrays a nervous Casey – it’s clear from quite early on that he has some ulterior motive for the robberies and delaying their attempted escape from the roof, but it takes a while for the truth to come out. Mahon is reprising his Offie-nominated performance as cocky risk-taker Mikey, coming across as a likeable but ultimately troubled young man. Both have fantastic comic delivery and there is a real chemistry between them.
My verdict? An unconventional love story that’s touching & full of fun – beautifully designed and brilliantly written.