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It’s New Year’s Eve and for buzz cut siblings Lyle and Danny it’s out with the old as they lie on their identical single beds in almost identical clothes.

Their faces are slathered in detoxifying lemon flower face masks and cucumber slices soothing their eyes. But starting afresh and eradicating their traumatic history isn’t that easy.

Their language is restlessly stylised, their behaviour weird (to say the least) as they mix up a cocktail of marmite and antifreeze, gin and a kipper, topped off with a leather waistcoat.

They’re too scared to leave the confines of their flat and face the reality of modern life in Australia - though not too scared, at least in Danny’s case, to have nipped out for a bit of surreptitious sex with someone other than his journalist girlfriend Pru.

There’s something not quite right about these brothers and with the appearance of an irate Pru (Lisa Dillon in full throttle) their story of abandonment – first in a chicken coop, then by the media - gradually unfolds.Substantially recast since a successful run at the Old Red Lion last year, Aussie actor Brendan Cowell’s overblown three-hander makes for uncomfortable if often compulsive viewing, sucking us into their claustrophobic, interdependent world in which it is never quite certain who rules the roost – or whether life out there really is worth tackling.

I can’t say I enjoyed time spent in their company, but the acting is first rate.  Joel Samuels (from the previous cast) is both volatile and vulnerable as Lyle, whilst there’s a blank detachment in the eyes of William Troughton’s equally damaged Danny.

And as their distress mounts and their avian tics intensify, it becomes only too clear that it will take far more than a purifying skin treatment to enable them to shuck off their troubled past. 

£15 - £30, Trafalgar Studios (2)
Whitehall, SW1A 2DYTube
Tube | Charing Cross till 29th June  
atgtickets.com/trafalgarstudios


Photo: Steve Ullathorne


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Happy New - theatre review: Trafalgar Studios, London
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