Trafalgar Studios, London – until 22 June 2019
Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy deliver dynamic performances in this sharply directed production of Philip Ridley’s play.
It is has been a long time since a production of this scale has profoundly affected me in the way that Vincent River left me: emotionally drained and wondering whether both characters were able to move on from their intense and occasionally violent conversation, putting their minds at ease.
Philip Ridley’s powerfully intense and engaging play beautifully tracks the journey of Anita and Davey who are united by the tragic murder of Vincent, forcing them to confront their pain and anguish that his death has caused. It is a subtle piece of drama that over the course of 80 minutes takes audiences on a emotional rollercoaster as they both reflect on how they have ended up where they are at present.
The way in which the full account of what happened to Vincent is subtly unfolded in Robert Chevera’s sensitive and understated production allows the characters and the wonderful lyrical language that Ridley uses to take centre stage. This is particularly effective in the moment when Davey reveals what truly happened to Vincent, the words tumbling faster and faster while the descriptions become ever more vivid that the audience are thoroughly engaged.
This is a production that thoroughly focuses on the pain and anguish, but also manages to offer a glimmer of hope to both characters at the end of what is essentially a therapy session for both, a way to unburden themselves of guilt and grief if only briefly. But it also highlights that the occasional diversion from the heart of the story in the script can prove to be a bit distracting and can isolate the audience slightly.
But it is the dynamic performances from both Louise Jameson as Anita and Thomas Mahy as Davey that keep the audience thoroughly engaged. Louise Jameson is mesmerising as the grieving mother but also captures so many different elements to Anita’s character so vividly that you can really feel her pain and anger. It is such a sharp and well defined performance that twists and turns in a split second that makes it difficult to keep your eyes off her – particularly when you see that she is reliving every detail that Davey retells of Vincent’s last evening and the location that he was found in is heartbreaking to watch.
In contrast, Thomas Mahy as Davey conveys the burden of what Davey has to say to Anita with great strength and rawness that is equally astounding to watch. He deals with Davey’s many complex characteristics with great depth and understanding, particularly when he talks about his parents and their attitudes towards same sex relationships contrasted with how he refers to Vincent which are two of the most particularly poignant moments in the play.
Along with Nicolai Hart Hansen’s simple and isolating set design and Marty Langthorne’s striking lighting design, Vincent River is a thoroughly gripping and thought provoking piece of drama that exposes the many still existing flaws in society including ignorance and cruelty. It is a powerful piece of theatre that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
By Emma Clarendon
Vincent River continues to play at the Trafalgar Studios until the 22nd June. To book tickets visit: Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, From the Box Office, Last Minute.com or See Tickets.