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Kangaroo Valley review at New Vic Bristol

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Toby Farrow is best known as script editor for the Aardman Animations television series Creature Comforts but he has also been Bristol Old Vic writer-in-residence and his playwright pedigree comes through strongly in this bittersweet comedy about the fag end of the backpackers’ trail in sleazy Shepherd’s Bush.

The programme even includes a glossary of Aussie terms – most of them unprintable in a newspaper – but after the first five minutes it is scarcely necessary as interest focuses on Farrow’s four well-rounded characters and their rapid road to self-destruction.

Central to all this is ageing layabout Norman, played with just the right mix of bravura and vulnerability by Stuart Crossman, who has seen and done it all on his travels and is desperate to hide his homosexuality until the touching final moments. Catalyst for much of the comedy is fresh-faced competition swimmer Jez, a promising professional debut from William Bowry, who disguises the fact that he has lost his nerve in the pool with a quick-fire series of experiments with drugs, sex and crime.

The quartet is completed by Nicholas Gadd, as the skateboarding concierge Chad, and Chloe Summerskill, as the bitter pole-dancer Tica, for whom sex is nothing more than a tease. The destination of Farrow’s narrative is at times rather too obvious but he certainly has an ear for the Aussie patois and the entertaining whole is set in as unhygienic a London hostel by designer Katie Sykes as you are likely to meet in many a moon.

Production Information

New Vic, Bristol, February 11-28

Author
Toby Farrow
Director
Toby Farrow
Producer
Bristol Old Vic and Convent Productions
Cast
Stuart Crossman, William Bowry, Nicholas Gadd, Chloe Summerskill
Running time
2hrs

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