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Review: Anything Is Possible If You Think About it Hard Enough, Southwark Playhouse

The old ones are the best, so they say. And it’s true: all art, and drama in particular, needs to show us familiar, relatable things before surprising us by reflecting them in a new light. This excellent relationship play is a perfect example of an instantly recognisable situation played out with real theatrical expertise. Buttoned-up Rupert (Huw Parmenter) bumps into mouthy free spirit Alex (Gemma Lawrence) on the morning commute. Although not an obvious pairing, soon they are dating, then co-habiting, then expecting a child. But when tragedy strikes, their lives are torn apart. Will their love withstand their…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A beautifully realised tale of two lovers coping with the trials of life.

User Rating: 4.26 ( 1 votes)

The old ones are the best, so they say. And it’s true: all art, and drama in particular, needs to show us familiar, relatable things before surprising us by reflecting them in a new light. This excellent relationship play is a perfect example of an instantly recognisable situation played out with real theatrical expertise.

Buttoned-up Rupert (Huw Parmenter) bumps into mouthy free spirit Alex (Gemma Lawrence) on the morning commute. Although not an obvious pairing, soon they are dating, then co-habiting, then expecting a child. But when tragedy strikes, their lives are torn apart. Will their love withstand their loss?

If the plot doesn’t sound hugely original, that’s because it isn’t. But the bones of the story aren’t the thing here – it’s in the telling that this production excels.

Lawrence and Parmenter give superb performances of wonderful humanity. Their charm and charisma succeed in raising these archetypal characters above parody or staleness. Although the hapless man/feisty woman dynamic has been explored many times before, the actors bring a real freshness to the partnership. They’re supremely watchable, with impeccable timing and genuine chemistry.

It helps, of course, that they’re working with some absolutely cracking material. Cordelia O’Neill’s script brims with insight, compassion, and a lot of laughs, even during Alex and Rupert’s darkest hours. She’s created a thoroughly believable relationship with two rounded characters, both of whom are a mix of numerous conflicting and contrasting traits.

Director Kate Budgen seamlessly choreographs the action, making use of every inch of the space. She keeps it pacey but at the same time is not afraid to let important beats rest and resonate before moving things along again.

The simple but effective set, sound and lighting design are all precisely pitched to compliment O’Neill’s script and the cast’s extremely fine performances.

This is not a show that re-invents the wheel. But in a production as polished and involving as this, that really doesn’t matter at all.

Written by: Cordelia O’Neill
Directed by: Kate Budgen
Produced by: Philip Scott-Wallace for Small Things Theatre

Anything Is Possible If You Think About it Hard Enough plays at Southwark Playhouse until 9 October. Further information and booking via the below link.

About Nathan Blue

Nathan is a writer, painter and semi-professional fencer. He fell in love with theatre at an early age, when his parents took him to an open air production of Macbeth and he refused to leave even when it poured with rain and the rest of the audience abandoned ship. Since then he has developed an eclectic taste in live performance and attends as many new shows as he can, while also striving to find time to complete his PhD on The Misogyny of Jane Austen.