Combining the creeping high school horror of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, the stigma-skewering impishness of Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, and a delectably bleak, Fargo-esque wit, Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company is a superbly crafted Canadian import.
In Michael Yale’s modest production, it becomes a tightly wound, incrementally gripping study about grief, guilt and the impossibility of parenthood.
Two sets of parents meet for dinner in an awkward bid to find closure after one of their sons has committed suicide, slitting his wrists in the bath to escape the relentless, homophobic bullying dished out by the other boy, also grimly present.
Tannahill unhurriedly and organically turns the screw of this impromptu Kangaroo Court over the course of the play, gradually unveiling revelations, concealed misgivings, and a rack of questionable parental decisions.
Hill’s production unfolds on Zahra Mansouri’s blandly naturalistic set – a stifling suburban dining room, all faux-granite walls and folded napkins – and boasts five impressively understated performances, notably from Lucy Robinson, as an inconsolable mother, and David Leopold, wordlessly suggesting mountains of sorrow as thick-set, high school bully Curtis.
If Late Company has a flaw, it’s that its dissection of parental delusions and cyber bullying stereotypes doesn’t go quite far enough.
It’s still an exquisitely weighted, socially engaged drama, that evokes both the febrile abyss of grief and Philip Larkin’s inescapable truth about parenting.