Stuart Slade’s first play boldly uses Operation Yewtree as inspiration for a comic and unexpectedly tender two-hander. The play explores the relationship between Jen and her Uncle Len in the weeks following the suicide of Jen’s father, a well-liked public figure whose reputation was shattered following accusations of sexual abuse. Jen’s mother has sunk deep into depression and it’s up to Jen and her slightly shambolic rumpled uncle to try and piece things back together.
Put like that the premise sounds pretty dark, but Slade’s writing is full of warmth, humour and nuance. Len, in particular, is a fascinating creation: a man who has gone through life in the shadow of his famous brother. He’s chaotic and sardonic, paint-stained and wild-eyed, yet also kind and good-natured and emotionally intelligent, all of which comes through in Graham O’Mara’s brilliant performance. Jennifer Clement is also engaging as the brittle, grieving Jen.
As both are forced to confront the man Jen’s father was in life, their relationship grows stronger and the play becomes more morally knotty. Spread over five scenes and covering several months it is perhaps a little longer than it needs to be, but it’s an intelligent, funny and humane piece of writing, a very impressive debut.
- Theatre 503, London
- November 4-29, PN November 7
- Author: Stuart Slade
- Director: Dan Pick
- Cast: Graham O’Mara, Jennifer Clement
- Design: Georgia de Grey set, Christopher Nairne lighting, Kieran Lucas sound
- Technical: Holly Hooper production manager
- Producers: Theatre 503, Kuleshov Theatre, Etch Theatre
- Running time: 1hr 30mins
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