Programming at the Hampstead theatre has been somewhat hit and miss in
recent years, so hopes are high that incoming artistic director Edward Hall
will turn things round and restore its former reputation as a first class
off West End venue. Unfortunately, his inaugural production fails to live up
to expectations, a double pity as playwright Shelagh Stephenson has a proven
track record as a writer of intelligent, witty and thought provoking drama.
The premise is promising enough – backpacking 20 year old Adam has been
missing for 6 months since the Jakarta bombings and his academic step-father
Nick and mother Lia crave proof, one way or the other, of the fate of her
Although the opening scene – with a not very funny psychic –
doesn’t ring true in the context of their pristine middleclass household,
the desperate anguish of Julie Graham’s Lia certainly does. So one can just
about buy her reluctant decision to get involved with Daisy Beaumont’s
unscrupulously persistent TV programme maker (who’s more caricature then
credible) in a last ditch attempt to trace him.
But one loses patience with Lia’s prolonged indulgence of the amnesiac (and
increasingly disturbing) cuckoo in the nest who meets them at the airport,
and, whilst moderately entertaining, this psychological thriller fails to
live up to its more profound (and only partially integrated) aspirations.
Hampstead, Eton Avenue, NW3 3EU
020 7722 9301
Tube: Swiss Cottage
Until 30th October
Review: Louise Kingsley