I don’t know about you, but I feel that New Year’s Eve as a holiday is a bit overrated. There is always pressure to have a really, really good time – usually involving copious amounts of alcohol – followed by the need to make a public declaration of what is wrong with your life and how you plan to put it right in the next 12 months. This brings me nicely to the Rannygazoo Theatre Company production of “Resolution” currently at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden.
Given my introduction, you won’t be surprised to know that the play opens on New Year’s Eve where we find Lucy (Gemma Leader) on the balcony of her apartment having a quiet drink when out pops her ex-boyfriend, Jason (James Naylor), for a chat. Invited to her traditional NYE party after dropping massive hints to Lucy’s sister, Sarah (Elizabeth Menabney), Jason has come to clear the air with Lucy following their split some 6 months ago. Got to be honest, as plans go I think the entire planet, with the exception of Jason, would realise that clearing the air with your ex at her NYE party is not the smartest move but, bless him, he tries anyway. Truths come out as the pair talk, banter and even at times flirt with each other over the course of the evening. Whatever their reasons for splitting up, it’s obvious there is still some lingering affection there – definitely on Jason’s side – and as the midnight hour draws closer it seems that so do they.
Back 12 months, to the same balcony and the same party, we see how Lucy and Jason were last year as their relationship started to show the cracks at the seams. Back another year to the evening they met – when Jason was invited by a friend of a friend of a friend etc to Lucy’s party and was eagerly pursued by Sarah while Lucy had her own admirer in the shape of Daniel ‘call me Dan’ (Ray Bethley) obviously punching above his weight by pursuing her.
Finally, we go forward in time, to a run of the mill supermarket where after a period of a couple of years has elapsed since the opening scene, a chance meeting between the four characters opens up a world of possibilities and maybe reconciliation and rekindling of old flames.
“Resolution” is Scott Barnett’s debut play and was a lovely introduction to his work. Under the direction of Robert Henderson, the play works on so many levels. As with so much I see on the fringe/off-west end, “Resolution” proves you don’t need huge sets – in this case a simple white mat and fairy light festooned plant – in order to produce a great show. Scott’s script was very natural and believable. I couldn’t believe how many of Lucy and Jason’s conversations I had gone through – especially Jason’s reaction when Lucy said (without any form of apology) that she had never seen Dr Who – and the two lead actors played their roles to perfection. Lucy, someone who likes to be in control and has major issues with real emotions so resorts to sarcasm when confronted by them was brought to life in superb style by Gemma and brilliantly paired with James’s wonderful performance as Jason a vulnerable, under-confident, nerdy guy wearing his heart on his sleeve and probably spending much of his day wondering how he had ‘landed’ someone as wonderful (in his mind) as Lucy. Even allowing for the whole ‘opposites attract’ theory these two should never have worked as a couple but they did and I was rooting for them to be together from the off.
At just over an hour with no interval “Resolution” is an extremely well written play superbly staged with some masterly directorial touches. For example using voices of New Year revellers discussing their own resolutions to move between scenes (so much better than using a Delorean to cross the years), the haunting Spandau Ballet ‘True’ as Lucy and Jason’s song and the poor unfortunate passer by who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
By the way, when you go, make sure you keep your ticket as this is a membership card to Etcetera Theatre giving discounts to other shows. Finally its bad pun time so even though its March, you should definitely resolve to go and see “Resolution” as soon as possible.
Review by Terry Eastham
Rannygazoo presents RESOLUTION, by Scott Barnett
New Year’s Eve. Last chance to say what you have to say. Last chance to seize the day. Last chance to lie to yourself . . . until next year.
Lucy and Jason wrestle with their concepts of what love should be and who they are to each other, as the clock ticks down to midnight.
Resolution is a naturalistic, bittersweet comedy-drama that intimately explores a doomed relationship.
Directed by Robert Henderson
Cast: Ray Bethley, Gemma Leader, Beth Menabney, James Naylor
Thursday 26th March 2015