So the field was wide open for Rob Hayes to make a strong impression with his short new play which involves both, especially with The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison on board.
He plays Keith, the temporarily dry young man who has got as far as making his list of those he has harmed (step 8) and should now be in the process of making amends – except that he seems to have forgotten that this should only be if it does no further harm to the injured parties and that it shouldn’t involve coercing them into forgiving him for past misdemeanours..
In his grubby, grotty bedsit Harrison’s Keith has the slightly manic look of someone only barely under control, ready to explode without too much provocation and surely with more than alcoholism at the root of his problems. As his estranged foster parents, Barry McCarthy’s mild, conciliatory Alan is completely convincing, whilst Wendy Nottingham’s hostile Judith makes it clear that only a grudging sense of duty has persuaded her to visit this reminder of past troubles.
But Hayes doesn’t really pull it off, never pursuing ideas and past episodes in any satisfactory way – and although it provides one of several amusing moments, surely any sensible adult (let alone these two English teachers with vast experience of Keith’s unpredictable behaviour) would have headed for the hills as soon as their former charge served up so-called coffee made from gravy granules.
Trafalgar Studios 2 | £17.50- £29.50
Whitehall, SW1A 2DY
Tube | Charing Cross | Until 26th May
Photo credit is Mike Lidbetter.