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Nest review at Vaults, London – ‘moments of tenderness’

Charlotte Jane Higgins and Arthur McBain at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Alex Harvey Brown Charlotte Jane Higgins and Arthur McBain at Vault Festival, London. Photo: Alex Harvey Brown

Jade doesn’t like going outside. It’s too risky. Kids are throwing shopping trolleys off the roof and the lift smells of piss. Her boyfriend Liam keeps trying to coax her out, but she resists. She’d prefer to stay in her little cocoon with him, drinking beer, snuggling – safe.

Katy Warner’s play Nest, which was shortlisted for Theatre503’s playwriting award, is an intimate two-hander. Liam and Jade’s relationship is sweet but also suffocating. She relies on him for everything. They coo over each other and give each other gifts, but Jade also has fits of jealousy and descends into black moods during which she sees no reason to keep on living. Yasmeen Arden’s production successfully conveys the shifts in the emotional texture of their relationship and makes good use of the space, the coital noises of the neighbours seeping through the walls.

Holly Pigott’s set evokes both decay and comfort. Jade’s flat is littered in debris, discarded beer cans and tins of Pringles, but the exaggerated stack of mattresses is clearly also a source of comfort and security.

The performances are both strong. Charlotte Jane Higgins walks the fine line between endearing and irritating as the childlike bird-fixated Jade, while Arthur McBain conveys Liam’s beery swagger – and his frustration. There are moments of tenderness between them, but good as they are there’s a bagginess to the narrative. The production lacks momentum and could stand to be more claustrophobic. The audience remains on the outside of their relationship.

Good Girl review at Vaults, London – ‘insightful, honest and generous’

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Tenderly performed portrait of a troubled and destructive relationship