A brash title signposts a frenetically foul-mouthed work from the pen of Nick Smith. Don’t be fooled by the uncouth and wicked tongue though; this is also a deceptively articulate and imaginative script.
It all starts on Christmas Eve, with a rolled-up cigarette poised in the fingers and a messy apartment to ponder within. Speaking effusively, but with a hard, slightly bitter edge, Peter (Jon Cottrell) takes us through his lonely predicament on this festive night. In order to catch up with the present, however, he must first take us back to where it all began; meeting his girl, Hannah (Asha Reid), in a town far away from the capital city of London. Well, not that far away, really, in the grand scheme of things; just the Midlands.
What might appear prima facie to hint at another take on the ennui of modern living in the urban jungle, recedes from cliché and takes a more personal and specific angle. Peter tracks his life, his love, his frustrations and his woes with a poetic impartment and a short temper. Relocation changes his person, and the reminder of who he once was may or may not play a part in his future.
Production work is provided by Emily Hubert of recent Theatre503 success story I And The Village. Her work, and that of director Johnny Kelly, offers an assured touch that compliments the material. As for Smith, and bearing in mind that this is his debut outing, his script rubs up fairly well against favourable contemporaries, such as Angela Clarke (The Legacy) and Clara Brennan (Spine). There are even shades of such a lauded elder statesman as Neil LaBute (and particularly his work, The Shape of Things). Money Womb is dressed with an incisive measure; cutting to the quick as to how a society and a culture can shape you so completely. It is about the transformative power of time and place.
And yet, it is far from perfect. There are faults to be addressed. For one, the material needs to be broken up. There is no interval and there should be. The runtime is not necessarily that plump, but some judicious editing would make for a more thoroughly satisfying piece of drama. Also, a greater degree of pathos would not go amiss. Coverage of the relationship between Peter and Hannah stops and starts in an inconsistent fashion, when a greater scrutiny would provide a more emotive denouement.
Such complaints are minor though. When you have a work that offers such smart observations as the one uttered by a flummoxed Peter about how he expects purgatory to resemble the oppressive, smelly and cluttered waiting rooms of an NHS walk-in clinic, you know you have a rich new voice and a piece of theatre that has given you a certain degree of wonderful pleasure.
Review by Greg Wetherall
‘This is a romance between a man and a city.’
I’m a doer, I’m a roll up your sleeves and make a change person. People are usually reluctant to change, that’s why you leave them behind. Money and drugs are my tools, my bucket and spade. I’m digging myself a trench in London and bunkering down. An earwig latched onto London’s armpit.
Velvet Trumpet have spent the last three years staking their claim as London’s finest comedy theatre company, presenting work that is dark, bittersweet and above all funny.
Velvet Trumpet team up with producer Emily Hubert (I And The Village – Theatre503, Silk Road – Assembly Festival) and director Jonny Kelly (Papatango Theatre Company) to proudly present this acerbic debut play by man-in-crisis Nick Smith.
Velvet Trumpet Presents Money Womb
by Nick Smith
Starring: Jon Cottrell and Peta Cornish.
3rd to 8th August, 2015 7.45pm
Tuesday 4th August 2015