Theatre Royal Windsor (venue)
04 November 2019 (released)
05 November 2019
Do you agree that what really matters is what most people think, even if most people are wrong or do you think that there are such things as universal truths that are above debate and can’t be reduced to a matter of opinion?
This fast paced, witty comedy explores quandaries such as this but doesn’t fly off into philosophical whimsy. A key to its success is that it’s firmly rooted in real life with recognisable characters. In a comfortable South London flat, five people gather to enjoy a dinner party together. Conviviality is quickly scattered along with the spilt couscous when the friendly banter rapidly descends into brawling and reveals all too familiar weaknesses, obsessions and passions as well as long hidden secrets.
Another strength of this play is the tightly knit cast who bounce of each other’s performances like they’re playing a verbal game of squash. Joe Thomas, (the good looking one from The Inbetweeners) plays a very different character to the hapless cute-faced Simon you may know and love. He breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience in character as Vincent. He’s an obnoxious, deliberately provocative, wealthy estate agent. Vincent introduces us to his right-on sister, Elizabeth (Laura Patch) and her husband Peter (Bo Poraj). The couple have just put their young children to sleep and are preparing to host a dinner party in their comfortable, well decorated Peckham flat. Their guests are a childhood family friend, Carl (Alex Gaumond), Vincent and Anna (Summer Strallen). Anna is the newest member of the group, she’s Vincent’s girlfriend and pregnant with their first child.
Vincent lights the wick that starts the sparks flying when he announces the shocking name he has chosen for his expected new born son. This initial bombshell is a catalyst for the drama that follows.
This story started life in 2010. ‘Le Prenom’ penned by French writers Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patelliere was initially set in Paris. It enjoyed award winning success as a play and a film and was translated and performed across Europe and in Canada before Jeremy Sams translated and re-wrote the play in English. Although there are some elements which would work better for a French audience, there is enough that is pertinent for a British audience that it touches several nerves. The play explores how private acts become public acts and there is no neutrality, everything is inherently political. We see universal elements of social and family tension. Jealousy, disappointment and frustration fuel much of the interaction between the characters.
The gasps of shock, stunned silence and rippling laughter were testament to the roller coaster ride the audience enjoyed. A very entertaining, well written comedy that pokes fun at all of us whatever our place on the socio-political spectrum.