Pros: Articulately scripted with an engrossing plot, complemented by a superb cast.
Cons: A deafening sound system occasionally blew people’s ears off.
What better way to start the New Year than with a visit to the Old Red Lion, one of my favourite pub theatres. Tiny Dynamite was written by Abi Morgan, author of several stage plays, TV dramas and films, including the Iron Lady, featuring Oscar winner Meryl Streep and the award winning Suffragette. With such an excellent pedigree I was expecting great things from Ms Morgan and happily, wasn’t disappointed.
The play tells the story of two friends who grow up together: rat boy Anthony and shy girl Luce. Anthony is struck by lightning as a 6 year old but survives; Luce subconsciously reacts and now works as a risk assessor, perhaps to combat the vulnerability she sees in others. Anthony meanwhile glories in the event and sees it as a badge of honour, an unshakeable belief in his own resilience. It seems this brush with mortality has turned him into a feral rough sleeper, mentally fragile and unable to live a normal life. Luce provides an emotional crutch and injection of normality when he needs it. They share a secret that becomes a weapon in an ongoing battle; science versus emotion-faith versus reality-organisation versus chaos. They take a holiday together in search of tranquillity and peace of mind and soon meet the attractive, mysterious Madeleine, who slowly begins to alter their relationship.
An ingenious wooden stage was surrounded by a small trench filled with water, which gave the story an ethereal quality, as characters stepped through the trench creating a rippling soundscape. A rectangular bath was set into the middle of the stage and also filled with water. All three characters took turns in the bath while the two that remained interacted on stage. The bath and trench were effective props that captured the feeling of a seaside resort. This was storytelling of the very highest order; intricate, intelligent and perceptive, it continually changed gear and always kept the viewer on their toes. The cast were absolutely brilliant with Eva-Jane Willis as Luce, Tanya Fear as Madeleine and Niall Bishop as Anthony. Whilst it’s a close call, Niall Bishop just about steals the plaudits, delivering a chest thumping performance as Anthony. For someone who dreams of writing professionally, I can only admire Abi Morgan’s skills as a playwright. The only downside was an over tuned sound system which often distracted from the play. But then again nothing’s ever perfect, although this play got pretty close.
Author: Abi Morgan
Director: David Loumgair
Producer: Time Productions
Box Office: 084 4412 4307
Booking Until: 3 February 2018