Pros: There are decent performances from the whole cast.
Cons: An unfulfilling script that spends too long discussing and not enough time showing.
They say that it was the largest burglary in English legal history, with £14 million worth of jewels, gems and gold taken. The culprits of this ingenious crime were not your suave and sophisticated, cape-wearing felons but four elderly men – the so-called Hatton Gardens raiders. And so it was, that this crooked heist would be the motivation behind Sarah Thomas’ Sublime.
The plot follows Sophie and Sammy, a brother and sister who have never managed to lead ordinary, crimeless lives. Growing up in the shadows of Vic, a well-known and highly respected ‘fixer’, the pair have been trained and mentored into becoming two of the greatest thieves in London, taking gold and bag-fulls of currency that lurk in the safes of the richest homes. But these jobs are too easy; they want something bigger, with more excitement and a better reward at the end. And that’s exactly what they get when a tipoff about the whereabouts of the Hatton Gardens gold is presented to them. It’s an easy target and with the best in the business on the job, nothing can get in the way.
The storyline is simple and has the components of a good dark comedy but sadly, some unfortunate choices by writer Sarah Thomas make this quite a difficult 110 minutes to sit through. The first of these is the length. As a comedy, the pace should be quick but the constant stopping and starting to engage in irrelevant conversation slows the piece down, almost to a complete stop in parts. The underlying theme of incest that Thomas has inexplicably chosen to bring out is rubbed in our faces so early on that any potential for a shocking twist goes right out of the window. The planning of the heist also feels over-researched, as though the writer is trying to impress the audience with her knowledge of how this type of crime works and all the vocab that goes with it. The build-up takes so long to get to that, when we do eventually get there, it is sadly quite disappointing. The direction of the play also lacks clarity, with transitions being weird and messy.
The saving graces are the actors who, considering the script, do a decent job. Adele Oni and Michael Fatogun both do well in playing the love-sick siblings who plan the heist. Suzy Gill is well cast as the paleo-dieting, unsuspecting daughter and girlfriend who just wants someone to be there for her at the finish line. Declan Cooke is good in the role of Paul, the swindled bar owner; it would have been nice to see more of this character, to add some much-needed comedy, if nothing else.
Though lighting and sound are not major players in this production, more input on both fronts would definitely benefit it. A scene set in a club where two of the characters are dancing feels awkward with the same basic lighting and low-level music.
Overall, it is the writing that lets down this piece. Claiming to be a provocative dark comedy, there is little of either, with far more focus on love and relationships, and with rambling dialogue that doesn’t really equate to much. There are some obviously talented actors holding the piece together, but the slow pace and strange, incestuous storyline make it quite a longwinded watch. An unfortunately disappointing visit to a usually exceptional venue.
Author: Sarah Thomas
Director: Ben SantaMaria
Producer: Vendetta Productions
Box Office: 020 3841 6611
Booking Link: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/sublime
Booking Until: 8 April 2017