Half empty bottles, torn crisp packets and dirty glasses litter the stage. This was clearly a heck of a party we weren’t invited to. And here comes one of the survivors, bleary-eyed and tousled, staggering around with a bin-bag, into which she is half-heartedly throwing the detritus of the previous evening.
This is Maria, and this is her flat – “in zone 2!” – which she shares with a couple of flatmates. She is a typical, modern twenty-something single girl; trapped in a job which bears no relation whatsoever to her degree, unable to leave because she has become addicted to the lifestyle her salary brings her, lurching from one party to the next with little thought to either the future or the bigger picture. But here comes her friend Andy, a man who sees nothing but the bigger picture, to help her clear up and dissect the previous night’s revels. A bit of sparring banter soon turns into a stern lecture from the slightly older and much more serious Andy, who seems to thoroughly disapprove of his friend’s lifestyle. Gradually, as they talk, the relationship between the pair reveals itself to be slightly more complex than we supposed, and maybe than they would like to admit, even to themselves.
Kevin Lee’s script is witty, relevant and engrossing, and the two actors make the most of the acerbic repartee. Robert Ansell, as Andy, appears a little self-conscious during some of his long-winded, ranting speeches, but he is very comfortable during the quick-fire interaction with Maria. Lucy Penrose is a down to earth, warm and engaging Maria; her dialogue and movement feels very natural, as does her relationship with Andy, despite the differences between them. I am intrigued, however, by the title; there were a couple of brief allusions to the differences in their social class, but the subject was never expanded upon, and despite the fact that Andy is supposed to be a real “man of the people”, he looks like a catalogue model. Despite their different ambitions and world views, their relationship is neither startling nor jarring. It would have been interesting to see how their behaviour changed in the presence of a third party, but this play is strictly a two-hander.
In fact, I am not entirely sure what point the play is trying to make. There is a slightly sit-com episode feel to some of the action and chat, enhanced by the focal point of a sofa, which is never more obvious than during an extremely funny dance sequence. Andy and Maria’s discussions about relationships and the meaning of life are interesting, but no conclusions appear to be reached.
The ‘Will-they-won’t-they’ atmosphere between the two is also fun to watch, but hardly ground-breaking. It certainly feels as though director Imogen Beech is trying to steer the action towards some kind of climax, but the inference escaped me, and the ending is tantalising and unsatisfying.
Nevertheless, Different Class is an entertaining and appealing play, showcasing a lot of very promising new writing and acting talent.
Review by Genni Trickett
Andy and Maria don’t get on. But really they do. They’re just friends. Friends who like to push each other as hard as they can. But as their conversation unfolds, we see there is more to their history than first thought.
’Different Class’ is a play about two young people, two big personalities, both with different dreams, diverse ambitions and contrasting opinions on life. But really it’s the things they can’t say which trouble them the most.
Kevin Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed ‘Time for Heroes’ (Barons Court Theatre), which earned rave reviews earlier this year. His new play ’Different Class’ premieres at The Etcetera Theatre.
Writer / Producer: Kevin Lee
Director: Imogen Beech
Cast: Lucy Penrose, Robert Ansell
Friday 18th September 2015