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Cuttings review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘sparky, witty and well-observed’

Maisie Preston and Natasha Patel in Cuttings at Hope Theatre, London. Photo: Cam Harle
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Ollie George Clark’s sparky, well-observed play delves into the murky world of modern-day crisis management.

YouTuber turned actor Arthur Moses has won an Olivier award, but while collecting his gong, he unleashed a champagne-induced tirade of expletives live on Radio 4. Twitter and Ofcom are not happy, and now his PR team has a big problem on their hands.

Caitlin Abbot’s spot-on set cleverly captures the stark, over-lit menace of a generically trendy media office, piling on daily clutter and ephemera to create a believably claustrophobic battleground for Clark’s trio of characters to duke it out.

Clark does well to eke out conflict from characters who are essentially quite similar. As the PR women concoct a script for Arthur to deliver in a video apology that will “reframe his truth”, it becomes clear the three have different moral codes and levels of experience. The youngest, Danica, is played with delightful wide-eyed, ponytailed innocence by Maisie Preston, while there are no depths that battled-hardened veteran Gracelyn (Joan Potter) and cooly ambitious Ruchi (Natasha Patel) won’t plumb.

Witty, quick-fire dialogue pushes things entertainingly along, although it’s sometimes tricky to follow when details pile up at speed. But it’s a pleasure when it does work, such as the women’s warm-up laughter as they prepare to smarm a client and the changing of posters to flatter egos.

Rob Ellis’ energetic direction makes good use of the Hope Theatre’s small performance space. The trio’s stalking of the space mimics the frenetic pace of their thought processes, although this occasionally feel awkward.

Though the pace flags during a static exchange about BBC regulations, this sassy journey through the dark arts of PR ends in a way that is both smart and satisfying.

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Verdict
Smart, witty and delightfully detailed study of the dark arts of celebrity PR
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