The Summer House review at Gate London
Skin and sweat. Steam rising. Three men in shorts sitting out under the stars. This comic play is centred around male friendship and masculinity. Three friends on a stag party in Iceland spend the night in an isolated summer house. But as they sit in the hot tub, beers in hand, various rivalries and anxieties start to float to the surface.
Their story is interwoven with one of Viking lore, tales of gods and giants, violence and valour. Amusing at first, these sequences eventually detract from the real pleasures of the piece. The interaction between Will Adamsdale, Neil Haigh and Matthew Steer is a pleasure: the shifting dynamics, the plausible digressions and conversational dead-ends, the perfectly pitched facial expressions.
John Wright’s production is also incredibly inventive in its staging, creating a world from a few lengths of plastic sheeting, a leaf blower and a Viking helmet.
The piece is at its best when it’s more low-key and subtle, particularly in its depiction of the competitiveness that exists even between close friends. But as it becomes bigger and baggier, it starts to lose focus. Their crisis is one of cacophony: mess and noise and destruction – boys breaking things. As the characters encounter earthquakes, coke dealers and talking ravens, it starts to feel more chaotic and adolescent in tone, which – in context – is actually very fitting.
Gate, London, February 28-March 24
- Will Adamsdale, Neil Haigh, Matthew Steer, John Wright
- John Wright
- Cast includes
- Will Adamsdale, Neil Haigh, Matthew Steer
- Running time
- 1hr 30mins
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