Luce at Southwark PlayhouseCultureTheatre
Do we ever really know our children? JC Lee addresses this question with some alarming answers in Luce. His gripping, intense and tightly-knit play explores the possibility of home-grown terrorism and living up to imagined perfection.
Luce (Martins Imhangbe) was raised in an undisclosed war-torn African country, and then adopted by a straight-edge, white American couple at the age of seven. He is now 17 and his finding his stride as an honours student, star of the football team and an apparently morally upstanding citizen. When Luce’s attentive mother, Amy (Mel Geidroyc), is called into school by Luce’s teacher Mrs Carter it is revealed that Luce has written a pro-violence account of a right-wing terrorist and is in possession of illegal fireworks. A dismayed Amy dances around the topic when confronting her high-achieving son, which leads to a string of small deceptions.
Director Simon Dormandy explains he was drawn to the play because it explores the pressure placed on high-achieving young men, and his direction combined with the skilled performances from the small cast shed light on the importance of words on impressionable young adults. The production focuses on what is said vs what is meant, and, in a work that is so reliant on dialogue, the actors have to deliver with subtlety and precision.
Mel Giedroyc, best known for her amusing baking puns, assumes the guise of concerned mother with perfect comic timing and thoughtful choices. Martins Imhangbe gives a striking performance as Luce, and not just because of his considerable height and strapping stance. The pair offer very real conversation between mother and son, and evoke both compassion and suspicion. Natasha Gordon as Mrs Carter adds frustration and terror to the mix as her interactions with the self-righteous Luce contribute a chilling perspective. Lee, as a writer for popular television shows such as Girls and How to Get Away with Murder, knows how to keep the audience guessing. Is Luce a terrorist in waiting or just too clever for his own good?
Luce is on at the Southwark Playhouse from 9th March until 2nd April 2016. Book your tickets here.