Actually at Trafalgar Studios
This dark, emotional romp lurches back and forth in pursuit of a truth it never quite finds.
For the best part of a decade, countless US TV shows have run with the unclear, unpunished or unfairly punished college rape scenario. They parade these debates around: whether or not it was really rape; whether or not the education panels are a fair way to put someone on trial; whether or not any of this is worth it. Which is perhaps why Actually feels a touch derivative – or at least, a little seen-it-all-before.
But Actually is still a good, moving piece of theatre. At times the production beckons us to lean in, seducing us with its charm. But only to slap us in the face a moment later with a shocking revelation. Regardless of the overall narrative, this is a truly talent-ridden piece of writing. Anna Ziegler’s words are full of great jokes and very real, raw emotion. Like life itself, her play tells lots of little stories throughout, some positive and some negative, that all add up to the big picture.
Of the two characters, there is not one to like and one to dislike, but rather two complex human beings who both have their ups and downs and both have their version of the truth. Although, by the end, they both feel a little unlikable.
Yasmin Paige, as Amber, and Simon Manyonda, as Tom, are both wonderful. Each narrating their own part of the story, they go from laughing and joking around to gut-punch tearful monologues and back again.
Those who like resolution or clear-cut heroes and villains will probably struggle to get on board with Actually. And while the overarching story doesn’t feel like anything new, the craft is great. Ultimately, it’s an interesting play that throws enough emotional jabs to keep it compelling throughout.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli
Actually is at Trafalgar Studios from 6th August until 31st August 2019. Book your tickets here.