‘A finely tuned narrative, but it ends too soon’: ISAAC CAME HOME FROM THE MOUNTAIN – Theatre503

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

Theatre503, London – until 2 June 2018

Bobby’s a bright, enterprising young man, so when his dad demands he get a job and do something with his life other than getting stoned, he does. Desperate to impress his elders but with little sense for his actions’ consequences, Bobby’s series of bad decisions leads to catastrophe. But this new play, laden with thematic complexity, cuts the story short before it has the chance to fully resonate.

It’s difficult for plays with all-white, all-male casts to be relevant any more – a good thing – but the script’s critical view of toxic masculinity and the complexity of father/son relationships are topical and engaging. The sophistication of these themes’ interplay with social class, youth culture and power dynamics makes for a finely tuned narrative, but it ends too soon. Though there is a fitting climax, the longed-for resolution never comes and the next big decision that Bobby must make is left unseen. It’s frustrating, but there is certainly room for lengthening Phil Ormrod’s narrative.

The cast of four is universally strong. Guy Porritt as Bobby’s police officer father has a quiet, calm authority but still possesses the hint of a sharp edge. He nicely contrasts Ian Burfield, Bobby’s boss at the salvage yard, who is much more of a hard man. Both display believable relationships with those playing their sons, Charles Furness as Bobby and Kenny Fullwood as Chris. These latter two have a great journey from wary competition to genuine care and friendship.

Ormrod has a strong concept that he largely executes well with nuance, and his commentary is important in a landscape coming to terms with its ingrained, unhealthy expectations of men and boys. With some extra material added onto the end, it would widen the lens to include the wider implications of these characters’ actions and add further weight to a promising story.

Laura Kressly on Twitter
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 on Twitter
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.