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Standards and Screwed
Published on Thursday, 17 May 2012

4 stars

The Old Courtroom (venue website)
24-27 May, 9:00pm-9:45pm
Reviewed by Naomi Dixon

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.

The Jump Through Hoops theatre company is bringing two pieces to this year’s Brighton Fringe, performed on separate dates but in the same venue and under a single entry in the programme.  I saw both plays at a preview night earlier in May, and can recommend each – though they’re very different in character and style.

The first play, Screwed, is an intense psychological drama, making its debut on the 24th and 25th.  This one-act play, written by Helen Smith and performed by her together with Sally C Davis, beautifully shows off the remarkable talents of both actresses; it’s a captivating and often disturbing play, which left me gripping the edge of my seat. Focused on the aftermath of a boozy night out between friends, but turning toward a darker and more sinister storyline, the plot is both intriguing and thought-provoking.

Both actresses are superb in their roles, drawing the audience deep into the performance and the mindset of each character. While intense and often uncomfortable viewing, it is also an important play which begs the viewer to study their own human nature and also that of mental illness.  Despite its deep message and difficult topics raised, this is a clear must-see for drama lovers, and genuinely one of the top theatrical performances I’ve taken in this year.

On the 26th and 27th, the second piece – Standards – takes over.  Though I didn’t find it as compelling or distinctive as Screwed, it still brings an excellent light-hearted and humorous touch to the festival.  This debut play from writer Ray Anthony is a comical but thought-provoking piece that invites us to question the roles we play in relationships, as well as the labels we place on each other and ourselves.

While high-spirited and often crude, it forces the viewer to question their own actions and roles, and most importantly how we judge other people and the world around us.  All the actors in this piece embraced their roles beautifully and seemed comfortable portraying both the qualities and the many flaws in their characters. It should be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone who has struggled with love, lust and changing relationships – and who is looking for an intelligent laugh as well.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.