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Review of Spank House at Theatre Utopia Croydon

Spank HouseWritten and performed by Jake Costello, Spank House tells the story of a twenty five year old, university educated, marijuana smoking, Crystal Palace supporting, English-teacher-turn-boiler-room-loader who cons rich investors in Barcelona.

Costello gives a five star performance; not perfect, but very impressive, as he seamlessly transitions from one character to another, effortlessly projecting a versatile range of accents and characters, each with their own unique idiosyncrasies. An open charm from the offset essentially brought a warmth to an essentially unlikeable character. Costello wasn’t afraid to reveal himself, revealing the grime and sweat that came with the job. Rather ingeniously, he never asks ask to like him, he just says: here, look, listen to my story.

The sleaziness of the whole industry is scattered amongst the set: A dirty magazine scrawled open on the floor, opened cans of beer and a grimy sofa; Costello works his way around the items which Kate Bannister has so precisely positioned in the space. Nothing gets in the way, with all the set items assisting and supporting his narrative. By the time we’re in Barcelona and he’s settled on an upstage sofa, we’re there with him; he draws us in and takes us on his journey. The detail down to a spillage on his white t-shirt painted a pretty clear picture of the life he was living.

Some delayed lighting effects luckily didn’t take too much away from Costello’s performance nor distracted him from his narrative. Video projections were used ineffectively; it’s a shame Costello wasn’t actively incorporated with the videos screened on the back wall. With lines as visually poetic as ‘a pit-bull in a tracksuit ready to bite some c**** face off‘, this sixty minute one-man monologue just needed to go back-to-basics and stick with a storyteller in a space. If I’ve not already made it clear enough, the writing and performance was superb.

4 stars

Spank House

Review by Joseph Winer

Jake is a criminal. And he’s going to tell you a story. A one-man, semi-biographical show.

May 5 :7:30 pm – May 8 :8:30 pm
http://matthewsyard.com/

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