Vincent River at Trafalgar Studios
Portraying two highly complex characters in a moment of intense vulnerability and yet maintaining absolute believability is no easy feat to pull off. Philip Ridley’s Vincent River, however, succeeds with a bang – at least for the most part. The greatest aspects of this production are Ridley’s powerful prose – which fluctuates between being darkly humorous and tearjerkingly melancholic when the plot demands – and the mind-blowing acting skills of Louise Jameson as Anita and Thomas Mahy as Davey, both of whom display incredible prowess. This is a staggering exploration of the aftermath of a hate crime.
18 months after her son Vincent has been killed because of his sexuality, Anita is visited by Davey, her son’s secret lover. Both characters seek some form of resolution and go through emotional turmoil as they gradually move towards greater honesty and exposure of their intimate feelings, revealing by and by the extent of their relationships with the deceased. The pacing of this development is brilliantly executed as we watch Davey only hesitantly admit that he was more than just a guy who happened to discover Vincent’s body, and Anita show what the death of her son means to her.
As far as the plot goes, the piece is a pretty typical two-hander with few surprises or novelties. But this is forgivable given how well-crafted the entire play is; everything is executed stunningly well. The production by Robert Chevara, too, is lovingly done, although the actors are encouraged to scream some of their lines off at the top of their lungs, resulting in those moments feeling forced. This distraction does diminish slightly the otherwise flawless acting, but will almost certainly improve when the show has been going on for a while.
This one flaw hardly decreases the impact of an otherwise outstanding play. Vincent River is as haunting as it is beautiful, and as funny as it is staggering. Despite the weight of its subject matter, the production is accessible to all audiences and deserves only the best of praise.
Photos: Scott Rylander
Vincent River is at Trafalgar Studios from 22nd May until 22nd June 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.