Vincent River at Park Theatre
Returning to the stage after hit productions at the Hampstead Theatre in 2001 and on the West End in 2007, Vincent River is an elegant exploration of loss, love and tragedy by accomplished playwright Philip Ridley. In the play, Anita and Davey have seen two sides of the same trauma. They find themselves together, quite unexpectedly, in Anita’s living room, which for the duration of this stirring production transforms itself into a space somewhere between a therapist’s couch and a church confessional.
The Park Theatre provides a perfectly intimate setting for Vincent River, where a pared-down set has enabled director Robert Chevara to use a small space inventively and powerfully. Despite this, the audience cannot help but be transfixed as the two actors create an expansive sense of the memories that have fatefully led them to the tight confines of the living room.
Much of this is owed to the terrific chemistry between Louise Jameson (Anita) and Thomas Mahy (Davey), allowing the piece to shift quickly and effectively between the heart-warming and heart-rending. Jameson is intensely human, full of pathos and affection in equal measure, and both succeed in pulling no emotional punches without straying into the mawkish.
Anita and Davey smoke and drink their way through a deeply honest sharing of emotions on violence, grief and sexuality. The work sees hatred as something all too common and destructive in equal measure – so a production of Vincent River could not have come at a more important time. It is an invitation to reflect. As a play, then, it cements Ridley’s reputation as a versatile writer who is able to engage head on with difficult issues and elicit rage and empathy alike from audiences. Vincent River is a timely reminder of human frailty and of our need to find solace and redemption in one another.
Photo: David Monteith Hodge
Vincent River is at Park Theatre from 20th March until 14th April 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.