Pros: Two quick-fire short plays with a twist. Snappy dialogue and some laughs.
Cons: The pace of The Cocktail Hour could have been a bit quicker and I found the twist was a little obvious.
This was my first review of 2015 and it was a good welcome into the New Year. The Hen and Chickens is a nice little theatre above a pub and the perfect space to stage these two two-person plays.
The Cocktail Hour and Smokers at the Scene of a Crime were both written and directed by Julia Armfield. Both plays explore the relationship between two people: the first a brother and sister who are two of a set of triplets, the second two strangers staying in a hotel. Both plays are simply staged in a black space with a few props and full lighting. This works well, as the actors hold all the focus. The star of both shows is the dialogue, which is well written and crackles with wit and humour. Both plays are about waiting and very little action happens. It’s through conversation that we understand the world, and see stories unfold and lives revealed.
The Cocktail Hour is about a family with a complicated history and a lot of animosity. The audience shares a bedroom with brother and sister Miles and Aggie, who are waiting for something unknown to happen. I liked the premise overall (I won’t give away any more of the plot here) but the suspense didn’t build up enough to keep my interest. The plot could move a little more quickly, with less ruminating on the past.
Smokers at the Scene of a Crime is set in a car park outside a hotel in the middle of the night. We see two strangers, Martha and Ben, strike up a conversation as they try to while away the boredom brought on by being trapped outside because of a fire alarm. Through their sparky conversations, we learn more about their lives and the problems they are both facing, and we hear them pass hilarious judgement on their fellow guests. The plot is funny and engaging and the actors deliver the lines with humour and a great dynamic energy that kept me and my co-reviewer gripped.
Overall it was definitely worth a watch. Recommended for a fun night out in the North.
Author: Julia Armfield
Director: Julia Armfield
Booking Until: The show has now closed.
Box Office: 020 7354 8246
Booking Link: http://www.unrestrictedview.co.uk/buy-tickets/?ee=96