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Deny, Deny, Deny – Cahoots Theatre Company and Park Theatre

DENY DENY DENY - Juma Sharkah
DENY DENY DENY – Juma Sharkah – Credit Daren Bell

Jonathan Maitland’s futuristic drama investigates doping in sport, more specifically we are asked to consider what it means to win and what it takes to be the best athlete in your field.

The setting for Deny, Deny, Deny is somewhere after Rio and somewhere before Boston, and performance enhancing technology has moved on from banned substances to injections that create subtle changes in DNA, or not so subtle as they can apparently make the difference between 58th place and winning Gold.

Juma Sharkah plays Eve – a sprinter with ambition, determination and a flat footed run, who is just desperate enough to win to consider the ‘alternative therapies’ offered by Rona (Zoe Waites) her new coach. Rona’s manipulative, focused and unapologetic. Eve wants to win.

She wants the glory, the money, the endorsements and Maitland has a good take on the advertising opportunities that suddenly become available to an athlete once they make it into the select top group. There’s a great deal more than a race to be won.

To get where she wants to be Eve sheds her long-term boyfriend Tom (Daniel Fraser) and sees off competition from Joyce (Shvorne Marks) as well as all the other elite athletes that she is convinced are winning with their own special methods. She isn’t a cheat, she’s simply improving herself, which as Rona points out, is no different ‘to wearing deodorant.’

It’s a tight cast and the actors work hard to inhabit this slightly wonky world of sport and betrayal. It’s a refreshingly cynical cast of characters, we’re not sure who we trust, or what anyone’s motives are. Does Joyce really hate cheats or is she simply trying to brand herself as someone who hates cheats? Is Tom really such an innocent? A special mention for Sarah Finigan who is completely watchable in a variety of roles throughout the play.

The set is satisfyingly sparse but with the techie space station edge that the play requires, and it’s used well too. There are some very effective moments of physical theatre and director Brendan O’Hea and movement director John Ross bring an exciting sense of motion to the races and to the more physical moments of the play.

Deny, Deny, Deny is a thought provoking, entertaining and timely play that investigates the coach-athlete relationship and digs deep into the motivations to cross the line.

4 stars

Review by Roz Wyllie

Cahoots Theatre Company in Association with Park Theatre present the World Premiere of
by Jonathan Maitland
Directed by Brendan O’Hea

Eve, a promising young athlete, is offered a cutting edge new ‘therapy’ by her mysterious, charismatic coach. She says it will make her the fastest woman in the world: but is it as safe, legal and ethical as she claims? The play, set in the near future, takes its title from the first rule of the doper’s handbook – ‘deny everything, until you can’t’. This gripping exposé of what it takes to be a champion is a tale of ambition, love, revenge and 21st century science based on two years of research by journalist turned playwright Jonathan Maitland.

Maitland, is author of previous Park Theatre hits Dead Sheep and An Audience with Jimmy Savile – the most talked about play of 2015.

Plays until: 3 Dec 2016
Tue – Sat Evenings 19.30
Thu & Sat Matinees 15.00
Running Time: 2 hours approx


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