OMNIBUS THEATRE, CLAPHAM, LONDON – UNTIL 23 JUNE
REVIEWED BY LISA HARLOW
The audience’s first introduction to Jamie (Cary Crankson), the play’s focal character, is rather an erratic experience.
It is 1983 in Gravesend. Jamie is both a giggling, boastful teenager, shy and clumsy next to his heart’s desire, Lynsey (Rebecca Stone), talking of wistful dreams of a house with a garden and dog. He is a simple and illiterate 18-year-old boy, still very immature. Yet also so damaged by trauma, he is apparently psychopathic. Having stolen a car to go joyriding and ‘rescue’ Lynsey from a home, how he glibly reveals his earlier criminal actions is a shock given their violence.
We are flashed forward to Jamie’s future, before being taken back to the ‘prologue’ to finish. Details of Jamie’s own difficult home life and time in a home are peppered throughout, including how this had left him vulnerable to his own trauma. In his eyes, his actions were the simple way to seek justice.
Jamie spends the next 20 years trying to atone, to resurrect a life worth living, to reform bonds that he holds dear. Every superficial conversation with significant others in his life: his half brother Matty (Dario Coates) and his daughter (Frances Knight), held deep undercurrents. The stage direction and excellent performances given, particularly by Stone and Crankson, allow the audience to experience the profound emotional processing at work in any given moment.
This play is not afraid of silence. It revels in it and harnesses its power. It is not time wasted but utilised for its ability to convey intense emotions felt by all the characters.
From time to time, Jamie attempts to verbalise his true need (‘I wanna hold your soul in my hands’), but it seems redemption is not in his reach.
Although the play comes full circle, as we join Lynsey and Jamie in some sweet moments before the tragic actions are taken, there is no conclusion to this story. No particular answer, if you will. I walked away having enjoyed it for its masterful performances, but also being left with a large question mark.