Money can’t buy love but debt can certainly put relationships through the mincer. In Dennis Kelly’s compelling new play, which holds up a cracked mirror to our world of easy credit and compulsive shopping, David and Jess’s marriage comes under intolerable strain when their debts drive them to seek desperate remedies.
But instead of telling their story in a blandly linear way, Kelly shatters it into dislocated scenes, shuffles its chronology and then adds tangential material which throws a lurid light on his theme. So the first scene sees David starting an office romance by email and then revealing how Jess died.
In the second scene, her parents tell the grotesque story of how their daughter’s grave was overshadowed by a Greek’s neighbouring monument to his dead wife, and how they removed this eyesore. Then a fractured scene tells us more about Jess, as well as conjuring up the whole world of credit cards and dead-end jobs.
Kelly’s writing style not only plays with the form of the story but is also a fine mix of excruciating emotion and imaginative oddity. His vision has found a superb director in Matthew Dunster, whose designer, Anna Fleischle, has created a curving bank of glass compartments which can instantly produce the furniture that creates an office or a hospital.
John Kirk and Kellie Bright play the warm but troubled couple, while Claudie Blakley, Paul Moriarty, Joanna Bacon and Graeme Hawley take several roles each. All in all, this gut-wrenching but exhilarating drama is the perfect show to open the Young Vic’s new studio theatre.