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Wreck review at Nottingham Playhouse – ‘a harrowing debut play’

Luke Grant in Wreck at Nottingham Playhouse Luke Grant in Wreck at Nottingham Playhouse
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Fresh from drama school and holding the stage entirely on his own, Luke Grant makes a very impressive professional debut in this harrowing drama. It’s Toby Campion’s first play too, the fruits of his 12-month attachment as Fifth Word Theatre’s most promising playwright in 2015. Alexandra Moxon is also making her directorial debut.

Tariq is an engaging and affable lad who works in a phone shop, has a regular girlfriend, suffers the affections of a doting mother and is a diehard Nottingham Forest fan. Someone’s sitting in his reserved seat when he boards a packed train in Edinburgh, triggering off a chain of consequences that raises deeply uncomfortable questions about our justice system.

We know from the off that the train isn’t going to make it. We’re expecting at least a derailment and the torn and bloodied fragments of the train on Abi Keating’s shattered set are another clue.

As Tariq crawls dazed from the wreckage, his struggle to articulate the horrors he sees is graphically expressed and the two-sided conversation he has with a dying man cuts to the quick.

This is a cleverly constructed play. In the remorseless hunt for scapegoats, normality is overtaken by doubt and darkness. Everyday actions come to seem sinister. Tariq’s descent is grievous, and Grant has to convey all this solo, whether simulating a headlock with his mother or reacting to the questions being thrown at him. Grant meets that challenge on every level.

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Toby Campion’s harrowing debut play provokes uncomfortable questions