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Piranha Heights review at Soho London

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The third in Philip Ridley’s informal trilogy of plays on the subject of brotherly love, Piranha Heights tells the story of siblings Alan and Terry, who meet on Mother’s Day in their mum’s council flat soon after her death. But their dispute about who should take over the property is complicated by the arrival of feral teens Medic and Lilly, who is apparently a Muslim war survivor.

Very quickly, the play explodes into a splatter of wild fantasy, in which a variety of competing versions of reality rush headlong at each other. But, just when collision seems inevitable, Ridley expertly steers the game onto another, even more outlandish terrain.

And although the imaginary element of the play is often outrageously cruel and breathtakingly audacious, it is always firmly grounded in the emotional truth of character. Each of Ridley’s creations is both highly individual in their neediness, and at the same time symbolic of the wider society’s problems.

Director Lisa Goldman has transformed the Soho space into a traverse staging on which designer Jon Bausor’s set evokes council house kitsch. In a thrilling production, Nicolas Tennant’s uncomfortable and nervy Alan contrasts vividly with Matthew Wait’s more daring and outspoken Terry, while John Macmillan’s wonderfully realised Medic is well matched by Jade Williams’ hectic Lilly.

When Alan’s son, a compelling Luke Treadaway, finally arrives, the scene is set for the final showdown. After it’s all over, it really feels as if Ridley has single-handedly brought white-knuckle excitement and appalling truth back to the new writing scene.

Production Information

Soho, London, May 15-June 14

Philip Ridley
Lisa Goldman
Soho Theatre
Cast includes
John Macmillan, Nicolas Tennant, Matthew Wait, Jade Williams, Luke Treadaway
Running time
1hr 35mins

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