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Deposit review at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs
, London – ‘a mini-masterpiece’

Natalie Dew, Ben Addis, Karl Davies and Nicola Kavanagh in Deposit at the Hampstead Theatre, London. Photo: Robert Day Natalie Dew, Ben Addis, Karl Davies and Nicola Kavanagh in Deposit at the Hampstead Theatre, London. Photo: Robert Day
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Housing is on the agenda. After Sh!t Theatre’s Letters to Windsor House and Cardboard Citizens’ Home Truths comes Matt Hartley’s Deposit, a four-handed comedy drama about Generation Rent.

Two 30-something couples make a deal. They will co-habit in a tiny, one-bedroom London flat for a year, giving them each time to scrape a deposit together and squeeze themselves on to the capital’s wincingly expensive property ladder. Hartley’s play plots this 21st-century flatshare through its ups and downs, drunken parties, arguments over toothpaste, furtive sexual secrets and awkward financial mismatches.

Lisa Spirling’s slick production delights in passive-aggressive confrontation and boasts four detailed, naturalistic performances, particularly from Karl Davies as straight-laced shy Tory Sam and Ben Addis as professionally frustrated civil servant Ben.

It’s remarkable how much Hartley has packed into a lightning-quick 90 minutes. His play is a test tube, delectably colliding the personal and the political, then chucking in glances at class privilege, a sprinkling of sitcom laughs and a hefty emotional clout, too. And money is always an issue on Polly Sullivan’s open-plan set; the floor is a mosaic of pennies and the walls are lined with jars of change.

Structurally, Deposit’s drama could be more evenly distributed, and its downbeat denouement is far from assertive, but it’s a compelling, urgent play nonetheless. A modest, state-of-the-nation mini-masterpiece.

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Matt Hartley's mini-masterpiece examines Generation Rent through a delectably passive-aggressive flatshare