Trafalgar Studios, London – until 22 June 2019
Vincent River written by Philip Ridley is a thought-provoking, highly-moving play which focuses on hate crime in the LGBTQ+ community whilst delicately and truthfully studying grief. Premiering almost 20 years ago, it’s striking how relevant this play remains.
A teenage boy dressed in all black with an eye the colour of coal to match it turns up at a grieving mother’s flat. Davey has been following Anita for weeks from a distance. But she’s spotted him. He’s the boy who discovered her son’s dead body. She welcomes him in and it’s clear the pair have a lot to discuss.
Ridley’s fast-paced text allows both actors to bounce off one another, whilst embodying their own sense of ambivalence. Louise Jameson is a master of nuance. The wrenching emotions within her are delicately contrasted by her motherly figure as she supports Davey and his own struggle. Her raw grief and guilt is portrayed in an utterly truthful way which makes this already devastating story, even more traumatic.
With his South London accent, Thomas Mahy is both commanding and vulnerable. His evident denial is portrayed in a very different way to Jameson which makes the pair’s discussions even more striking as the balance tips between them.
Robert Chevara directs a supremely subtle show which emphasises humour as well as horror. Ridley’s writing moves from poetic to brutal as if they’re entwined together and creates a play which enthrals throughout.
This is a devastatingly beautiful play which is performed so well by two nuanced actors. Fast paced, aggressive sections are perfectly contrasted by moments of unspoken emotion which cut to the core and evoke feelings of heart-break but also glimmers of hope.