Josie Rourke’s inaugural production as artistic director of the Bush suggests that the venue is in safe though not extraordinary hands.
Loosely inspired by the Tempest, How to Curse stars Al Weaver as Nick, a highly intelligent but disturbed young man who is convinced that he has found the spirit of Ariel in Robert Boulter’s streetwise William. Completing the dysfunctional teenage triangle is Emily Beecham’s lively waif Miranda.
Set in a bedsit bestrewn with books - as bestrewn as the play is littered with slightly pompous literary quotes - the production examines unhinged adolescence. Weaver gives a scene-stealing performance as the charmingly naive and passionate Nick, by turns twitchy, vulnerable or lit with fervour. He is well paired with Beecham, who imbues Miranda with a feisty spirit and innocence - they are as engaging in their heated altercations as their eccentric discussions. Much of the spark of the play is generated by their dynamic and the utterly mad world in which they exist.
Despite assured direction and captivating performances, the show is let down by an increasingly lagging pace. Somehow, the play’s resolution is less satisfying than the bizarre universe that Nick and Miranda had created for themselves - that it all boils down to a slightly twisted love story between Nick and William diminishes what had been an intriguing world.