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Published on Friday, 10 May 2013

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4 stars

The Warren (venue website)
6 May, 2:00pm-3:00pm; 8 May, 7:30pm-8:30pm; 10 May, 6:00pm-7:00pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

This play by Moira Buffini, performed by young company Thrust, is quite a satisfying – if sinister – feast. Paige, a brittle, upper-middle-class woman is holding a dinner party to celebrate the success of her husband Lars’s book. The book itself is a terrible-sounding self-help tome, full of Randian Objectivism and similar nonsense.

Predictably enough, the dinner party goes off the rails, and some of the devices used in the set-up are slightly tired. The fog that means they can’t escape. The mysterious stranger with car trouble. But mostly, the play is neat and entertaining.

The cast work well together. All of them are playing characters about 20 years older than they are, but do so very convincingly. In fact, it added to the piece’s heightened surrealism, especially as the dinner party guests are meant to be spoilt, rich, selfish babies. The play’s numerous witty barbs were well-delivered, and overall the cast’s comic timing was tight and entertaining.

The set is elegant and the cast use it well. For a piece based around characters sitting down, there is a nice amount of movement and energy. A particular device, used to convey the passage of time, worked extremely well.

Though a couple of beats felt missed – the fate of Hal’s ex-wife was hinted at throughout, but its final reveal felt thrown away – this play delivered a satisfying experience and built to a perfect climax, as the mute waiter’s true purpose, seeded in the play’s opening, was finally revealed.

This is a well-constructed and entertaining hour, featuring a talented cast and an accessible, yet rich, script.

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