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Review of Late Company at Trafalgar Studios

Late CompanyAfter its original run at The Finborough Theatre, Late Company transfers to Trafalgar Studios 2. Jordan Tannahill’s play about the aftermath and effects of teen suicide and cyber-bullying doesn’t hold back punches and delivers a piece with engaging tension and hurting at the forefront.

We meet Debora and Michael Shaun-Hastings, two parents awaiting company for dinner. They are nervous to sit down with Tamara, Bill and Curtis Dermot. Tamara and Bill are the parents of Curtis, and Curtis is considered a prime player in Debora and Michael’s son’s recent suicide. The characters have hopes to sit down with one another and attempt to get some closure or at least clarity on the situation. What ends up happening is an escalation of blame, secrets and upset that brings the audience in but also makes them scared to move.

Lucy Robinson plays Debora Shaun-Hastings and gives a stand out performance of a very frustrated and frustrating woman. Her pristine elegance can’t hide her nerves for the arrival of her dinner guests and her outbursts, later on, brings her anger to the surface. This mother is not ready to move on and Robinson’s performance captures Debora in all her complexity.

Playing opposite Robinson is Lisa Stevenson, who plays Curtis’ mother, Tamara. Her layered and realistic performance mirrors the many suburban mothers we all know. Their husbands, played by Todd Boyce and Alex Lowe take a supporting role in comparison to the mothers, but just as pivotal.

And David Leopold who plays Curtis gives a subdued but powerful performance. He plays his struggle quietly and is intimidated by Debora’s interrogation of him. The best parts of the play are Robinson’s and Leopold’s interactions. Intense and, well-directed and well-written.

David Leopold (Curtis), Lucy Robinson (Debora), Todd Boyce (Michael), Lisa Stephenson (Tamara) and Alex Lowe (Bill) in Late Company - credit Alastair Muir
David Leopold (Curtis), Lucy Robinson (Debora), Todd Boyce (Michael), Lisa Stephenson (Tamara) and Alex Lowe (Bill) in Late Company – credit Alastair Muir

The play starts a little slow but from the reading of the prepared letters, Tannahill takes us on a deep and dark debate on teen suicide, responsibility, depression and other big issues. Late Company covers many topics in depth in its 75 minutes than what other similar plays can do in their 180 minutes. Michael Yale’s direction is smart and Zara Mansouri’s design is elegant. It’s a perfect show for the Trafalgar space and could even expand to bigger theatres with the correct marketing.

Late Company doesn’t give many answers to the questions it asked, but it doesn’t have to. It just makes you think and have the conversation, which is what exactly helps prevent the serious situation of teen suicide.

4 stars

Review by Elliott Jordan

Sparking passionate debate, Late Company explores restorative justice, cyber bullying, and the ever-changing complexities of parenthood in the 21st century.

A successful middle-class couple’s lives are irrevocably changed after their teenage son is mercilessly bullied for being gay. In an attempt to ‘move on’ they invite his chief tormentor, and his parents, to a dinner party.

Far from finding the peace they seek, the dinner strips bare their good intentions to reveal layers of parental, sexual and political hypocrisy.

Written with sensitivity and humour, Late Company is a tantalising hotbed of visceral tension.

Late Company
Trafalgar Studio Two
14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY

Booking From: 21st Aug 2017
Booking Until: 16th Sep 2017

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