Kray Kray review at Theatre N16, London – ‘chilling precision’
One of the more fascinating facts about the Kray twins was their association with the rich and famous of their day. Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland visited their club in the West End, while the pair ruled the East End with an iron fist.
Bryan Hodgson's new play, which he also directs, hones in on this paradox, imagining Ronnie and Reggie preparing to meet a movie producer who is looking to make a film based on their lives.
Inspired by an actual incident, Kray Kray sees the pair holed up in a mansion trying to second guess how much of their real story they can safely tell. Reggie is pragmatic and sceptical that the project will ever take off, while Ronnie has already drafted reams of scenes, detailing the seedier aspects of their private lives and their reign of terror.
This stylish two-hander explores ideas of legacy, truth and the making of a legend. Hodgson's play sees the twins address the lies they tell each other and themselves. The writing mercifully avoids glamorising the pair and shows the occasional flash of psychosis beneath their chit chat.
In a production that engages with the nature of truth, there are few places for the actors to hide. Perry Meadowcroft, as Reggie, and Jimmy Barker, making his debut as Ronnie, inhabit the roles with chilling precision and a unexpected level of empathy. Tightly structured and sensitively lit, this is a fascinating and thoughtful addendum to the legend of the Kray twins.