Pros: Brilliant acting, fantastic script, fabulous social commentary. Go and see it!
Phillip Ridley’s Radiant Vermin is a black comedy which considers the impact of the housing crisis and terrible lengths a couple are willing to go to to get onto the property ladder.
The play centres on a young couple, Jill (Gemma Whelan) and Ollie (Sean Michael Verey) who are pregnant with their first child and living in a tiny flat in rough neighbourhood. When we meet them they tell us that they are going to tell us the story of how they managed to get their first home and the ‘terrible things’ they’ve done get it, assuring us that it was all for the sake of their child and that they are actually very nice people.
The story begins with them receiving a letter from a new government department offering them the chance to get their own property. We quickly meet the omniscient Miss Dee, an all knowing God-like figure who persuades them to take a large but dilapidated property in a run-down area. The deal is that they get it for free if they renovate and start the process of gentrification in the area.
On the first night in their new home a vagrant breaks in to their kitchen to get food. Ollie accidentally kills him whilst trying to defend the property. Filled with horror at what he’s done he rushes out to stop his wife coming into the kitchen. In the meantime, the homeless man’s body metamorphosises into the designer kitchen that the couple had been hankering after, with a self-filling fridge.
Both are wracked with guilt initially, but quickly realise that they could have the house of their dreams if they are able to quieten their moral objections. They very quickly set about murdering the local population of homeless people as the play unfolds, their desires getting evermore lavish and their bloodlust multiplying.
There are no fancy sets or lighting in this play. And it didn’t need any. The empty, stark white stage enables the audience to focus entirely on the action. The script is fast-paced, slick and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. Despite the fact there was no interval in this 90 minute show, the entire audience was utterly captivated throughout. The acting was faultless: funny, engaging. All lines were delivered with a knowing humour and machine-gun fast precision.
The scene of the baby’s birthday party scene where Gemma Whelan and Sean Michael Verey play about eight different characters was flabbergastingly good. Each character had different mannerisms and accents and was delivered at such a speed I was struggling to keep up. It was some of the most incredible theatre acting I’ve ever seen.
I literally couldn’t fault a thing so I have to give it full marks. A must-see production and an absolute bargain at £15 a ticket. Go and see . . . if you can get your hands on a ticket.
Written by: Philip Ridley
Directed by: David Mercatali
Designed by: William Reynolds
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/radiant-vermin
Booking Until: Sunday 12 April 2015