Andrew Maddock is one of my favourite new writers. He seems to focus on people, rather than characters and stories over storylines. His new play He(art), produced by Lonesome Schoolboy , is about four people and two stories.
The play opens in an art gallery with Alice (Alex Reynolds), who is clearly a bit posh, did art history and works in the gallery and Rhys (Jack Gogarty), a window cleaner with a heart condition. I struggled to warm to them as a couple, it wasn’t due to the class differences but Gogarty’s monotone performance and Reynolds was left carrying any emotion. It was an odd decision, which I assume was intentional, as nothing in the script suggested he was cold and emotionless. He is an intelligent man, who happens to have a heart problem and Alice is understandably more worried than him but he just seemed dead to everything. Even their discussion about the merits (or lack of) of a Banksy are treated like Gogarty just doesn’t care. It is a waste of the intricate character development Maddock has put in to Rhys.
The other storyline involves Kev (Shane Noone) and his sister, Sam (Flora Dawson). Out of the two stories this seemed the most rounded with Dawson’s vulnerable and lonely Sam delighted to have her brother back and who has been drawn into a scheme out of sheer love for him and their mother after a tough childhood. I particularly enjoyed Noone, who reminded me of Paddy Considine in look and performance. His character showed more vulnerability than Gogarty’s.
It sadly falls apart when these stories collide. I don’t want to spoil too much but I found myself internally screaming “ARGH! Why are they doing that, nothing over the last 50 minutes suggested that”. Endings are hard and it isn’t badly written or even badly directed by Niall Phillips (who has designed the amazingly simple but genius set) in the small space but it feels contrived as a scenario and takes it from a 4 star (if this blog did stars) to 3, which is a real shame.
He(art) at Theatre N16 until 28 January (excl. Sundays and Mondays)