Carthage at the Finborough Theatre
At the intimate venue in Earls Court, one of theatre’s most intense storylines comes to life; the first play from Channel 4 backed writer, Chris Thompson. After working for 12 years as a social worker with young offenders and in child protection, Thompson has channeled his experiences into literary prose and come up trumps with Carthage.
Set in London between 1998 and 2013, Carthage follows the tragic life of Tommy (Jack McMullen, Waterloo Road), born to Anne (Claire-Louise Cordwell) in prison. After a turbulent childhood in and out of care, Tommy himself lands in a young offender’s institute where he dies in terrible circumstances. Even with the persevering care from the Anderson family’s social worker Sue (Lisa Palfrey), and the calming aura of prison guard Marcus (Toby Wharton), Tommy’s volatile behaviour proves to be his downfall, with self-destructing events that question responsibility for his untimely death.
The powerful weight each character bears in writer Thompson’s attempt to creatively discuss this moral tragedy could have been detrimental to the performance. But the quality of acting from the cast of Carthage is second to none; right down to the tiniest detail. To watch an actress wipe tears from her eyes as Cordwell did after the final scene ascertains her dedication.
A great deal of the language used in Carthage is vulgar (although laced with crude, dry humour), but then the play is reflecting troubled individuals with ill-educated upbringings. There are also scenes of drug taking and those of a disturbing nature, making this play only suitable for a mature audience.
For Thompson’s sheer bravery in approaching a subject clearly so close to his heart, and for the actors superb efforts in bringing this Waterloo Road-meets-The Bill drama to the confined space of the Finborough Theatre, Carthage deserves every one of its five stars.
Carthage is at the Finborough Theatre until 22nd February 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.