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Review of Again by Stephanie Jacob at Trafalgar Studio Two

Again. Chris Larkin (Tom), Rosie Day (Izzy) & Natasha Little (Louise). Credit - Zute Lightfoot
Again. Chris Larkin (Tom), Rosie Day (Izzy) & Natasha Little (Louise). Credit – Zute Lightfoot

Again is a warm comedy-drama about family, observing how we’re all somehow trapped by ourselves, our choices and the roles we’re given and seem infuriatingly unable to shake off. It’s filled with humour and beautiful writing, and there’s a clever theatrical structure that elevates it to something more than just a play about family, but it’s the performances that shine in this kind, honest and often tender play.

Natasha Little is a compelling choice as Louise, the slightly cautious and concerned mother who is trying to keep everything, including herself, together. She manages to create a Louise who means to do better, who is flawed but hopeful and is completely believable. Chris Larkin as Tom, the sometimes regretful ex-husband, is another nuanced performance. There are moments where we could lose all sympathy for Tom, but Larkin’s performance reminds us that Tom is trying. That this isn’t easy for him either. The two ‘children’ Izzy and Adam have scene-stealing moments of brilliance.

Izzy is the neurotic, sexy, catastrophe sister, played to perfection by Rosie Day and in deliberate contrast to Charles Reston’s fantastically uptight, cerebral Adam. These could feel like stereotypes and be easy to dislike, but those clichés are avoided, and these siblings have a shorthand, an intimacy and a connection that is a joy to watch. Writer Stephanie Jacob captures the shared experience of family perfectly at times in this play and however dysfunctional they may seem, we do warm to them all.

There are times when the structure could start to feel intrusive, but director Hannah Price is wise to that and shows the characters feeling just as frustrated as the audience could be. This a beautifully directed play, with the intimacy of the stage being used perfectly and the changes in time and mood flowing seamlessly, there’s a flashback scene to a train in Barcelona that is so well crafted and performed. Anthony Lamble’s set is stylish and simple, and there’s subtle use of light and sound throughout the play.

There is something about the unusual structure and the emotionally articulate language that does at times mean you’re reminded this is a play and feel nudged out of the story a little. But then maybe that’s part of the point. That idea that every time we think we’re getting somewhere we get thrown off track is very much a theme of the play.

Again is theatrical, inventive and good fun. Recommended.

4 stars

Review by Roz Wyllie

A once close-knit family of four reunite after a long period of estrangement. This time, this time, it must go right.

Words never said. Words said that shouldn’t be. Contradicting memories. Family history builds like sedimentary rock, layer upon layer.

In this warm and touchingly comic new drama, Stephanie Jacob peels away the facades and literally re-sets the clock. As the four characters tussle for what they think they want, we are allowed to peer into the recesses of that unknowable unit which so shapes each of our lives: the family.

Moving, funny, infinitely relatable, Again is a brand new play with an ingenious theatrical twist.

Cast includes Rosie Day (Izzy), Chris Larkin (Tom), Natasha Little (Louise) and Charles Reston (Adam)

Mongrel Thumb’s world première of
AGAIN
By Stephanie Jacob
Directed by Hannah Price
6 February to 3 March 2018
Trafalgar Studio 2

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