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Kiss Chase review at Palace Theatre Southend on Sea

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Capturing those classic awkward elements at a school reunion, with nostalgic reminiscing of first loves, first kisses, grudges and fall-outs, Director Patric Kearns turns to the dark side with Philip Gladwin’s sinister contemporary thriller.

Comprising of stereotypical school characters, from popular high-school sweethearts to the bully and the bullied, each have their imperfections lurking within and each yearns for a return to those hormone-high days and a life before jobs and marriage.

Excelling as tormented John, Marcus Hutton aptly captures a pitiful mocked figure. Stripped of his dignity, Hutton succeeds in firstly inviting audience scorn, but then sympathy and endearment follow, as his wounded character’s infatuation with the deceased Susannah unearths crucial skeletons in his former classmates’ closets.

Stephen Beckett and Ben Roddy, as old pals smug Mike and thuggish Pete, slot seamlessly back into their 15-year-old former loutish selves. Full of bravado, their Hulk-like episodes suggest issues with anger management.

Commendable in her portrayal as a victim of domestic abuse, Jenny Funnell proves ideal for the part of emotionally and physically scarred Debbie, filled with denial yet longing for a return to the days of being adored.

Littered with revelations aplenty and subsequent dramatic monologues, tension is heightened among the quarrelling quartet, as muffled popular 1980s songs soon make way for piercing Hitchcock-esque stringed instrumental effects.

Claire Booth’s claustrophobic disused gymnasium set is simple yet fitting. Complete with crash mats, hobbyhorse and that aroma only a school gym possesses, nostalgic memories will flood back, as the cast open the door to past friendships, bonds and rivalries that we can all sadly and fondly relate to.

Production Information

Palace Theatre, Southend on Sea, May 17-19 then touring until June 9

Author
Philip Gladwin
Director
Patric Kearns
Producer
Talking Scarlet
Cast includes
Stephen Beckett, Jenny Funnell, Marcus Hutton, Ben Roddy
Running time
1hr 50mins

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