It is unusual for a 21 year old to write a play, let alone get it performed, even in some freezing church hall. David Dipper's debut at Soho is far better than one has any right to expect: an interesting and very fresh take on contemporary life.
Director Bijan Sheibani won last year's James Menzies-Kitchin Award for Young Directors. He impresses as he makes the fifty minutes of snapshots of life in the fastish lane flash by, as do the fast transitions that maintain the breakneck pace.
The play focuses on five characters who are never on stage together, as Dipper mixes monologues with pairs and occasionally trios but then usually only around a poker table.
The plot follows the lives of three men who were connected with young Lilly (Katherine Parkinson). She is a great poker player and too loose for her own good. Francis, played sensitively by Darren Tighe, is a loser who loves her; Elliott Cowan is her big-talking, thuggish brother Charlie; and Burn Gorman, good as ever, plays the ironically-named Cupid who is the catalyst. It is his macho madness that leads to Lilly's premature death following a party during which she faced a worse fate.
A year later, the play has cleverly developed through repetitive revelations that lead Francis to suicide when he realises that Holly, his new girlfriend (played by Christine Bottomley), reminds him of Lilly rather than replacing her. The full horror of Lilly's death emerges and brings about a final, inevitable confrontation between the other two men.
This is a fast-paced and intriguing if somewhat slight play about young men and women looking for excitement on the edges of drug culture. It contains some good writing that brings out wit and chilling cruelty in equal measure. This is a good and successful showcase for all concerned in a very promising young creative team both on and off stage.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher