So This Is It
Review by Louise Hill
Tom met Annie in a bar. Then he met her flatmate and best friend, Bridget, and began a love triangle which spans an affair (with Annie), marriage (to Bridget), a second affair (with Annie), an emmigration (Bridget) and a baby (with Annie). Tom and Annie's rootless, broken pasts prevent them from allowing anyone full access to their hearts. Both of them need and simultaneously resent Bridget. Bridget, with her superficially intact family background (father having affairs, mother turning a blind eye to maintain her social status) cannot understand why she and Tom can't play happy families once she has won the first round and secured the wedding ring of respectability.
This is RubyBlue's second full-scale production and marks them out as a company to watch. Writer/company director Leila Borris's script is highly original in style and form. Parallels can be drawn between Borris' play and Pinter's time-shifting love triangle, Betrayal, or Marber's partner-swapping drama, Closer, but Borris' play is one for the noughties generation of 20/30-somethings and has none of the self-justifying pathos of Pinter's play or the '90s disconnectedness of Marber's. Her characters have read all the self-help manuals (or at least watched Trisha) and know they are "fucked up", which makes for a much more interesting drama. Admittedly, the play says most of what it has to say in the first 45 minutes, and could do with a more explosive climax if it is to justify the additional running time, but the strength of Borris' characterisation and of the three-strong cast almost entirely compensates for this.
Benjamin Rees-Evans is coolly, callously charismatic as the "can't help myself" Tom who claims to play it for laughs and will not face his demons. Kate Holbrook plays Bridget with just the right measures of the loving wife/friend she wants to be and the selfish, self-preserving boarding school brat she can't escape. Leila Borris herself is utterly compelling as the vitriolic, vulnerable Annie who deals in harsh realities and won't let anyone forget it.
Samuel Miller's direction is bold enough to focus on the emotional truth of the writing and moves seamlessly through the time-shifts and changes of pace, which is no mean feat given the number of scene changes. Gravity's minimalist yet highly effective lighting and the starkly modern set mirror the play's stripped down emotional core. Susie Atherton's music provides good cover for some of the scene changes, but could, I felt, have been used to greater effect as a more defined fourth voice in the play.
So this is it is one of the strongest, most original and freshest pieces of new writing I have seen this year. RubyBlue and Leila Borris are talents to watch. Go to the Tabard before 5th August and say you were in at the start.
Until 5 August 2006