The Harmony Test

Richard Molloy
Hampstead Theatre
Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

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Pearl Chanda and Bally Gill Credit: Richard Lakos
Jemima Rooper, Sandro Rosta and Bally Gill Credit: Richard Lakos
Pearl Chanda and Jemima Rooper Credit: Richard Lakos

Zoe and Kash are trying to get pregnant. They are at the all-too-familiar place where the “having fun” part of getting pregnant has morphed into the conscious and conscientious place of “working” at trying to get pregnant. This will charge these two with venturing into as yet unexplored challenges of their relationship.

Zoe will task herself with methodically counting days and taking tests; worrying and planning. While out-of-work-actor Kash, who scouts the herbal shelves for creative answers, allows the universe to lead him to wildly untried remedies. This results in being a truly unique solution, which Zoe very whimsically finally buys into. This is territory that causes couples to bind or break.

Naomi and Charlie are at the end of their relationship. Both are somewhat clueless and somewhat blameless as to what brought them to this place, this very familiar fork in the road. Poor Charlie did not see this coming. Naomi has been at the finish for a while.

They are familiarly out of sync. He is just now realizing that something is wrong. She has found a new right in fitness instructor Rocco.

Both these couples struggle to make peace in a world that has only been presenting chaos. The understandably predictable explosion of Naomi and Charlie and the imploding situation that Zoe and Kash have had to navigate. In the final moments, the universe shows itself to be no more than they, we, can endure. Two relations headed in different direction. All four exhibiting their responsibility to their partner.

This very well may sound like familiar territory, couples in crisis, but in playwright Richard Malloy’s sharp and painful script, it reveals itself to be unique. (Malloy was the recipient of an Olivier nomination for Every Day I Make Greatness Happen.)

The Harmony Test is in the very capable hands of director Alice Hamilton, who has been able to find the subtlety of Molloy’s tender and intimate moments and balanced them with the raucous and sometimes surprisingly funny moments. She is able to keep it realistic and believable.

Pearl Chanda has found the very the very sympathetic Zoe and never plays just one emotion. She is the adult in the room. Bally Gill as Kash is often childlike and mercurial but always the right balance for Zoe. They are always kind to each other. They are never more than one step out of sync and never for long. They strive to meet each other.

Jemima Rooper as Naomi sits on the fence of her future and her responsibility to guiding Milo Twomey’s Charlie to independence.

Twomey has a monologue in the middle about how he sees the world, wide and deep, that could break your heart; perfectly paced. Sandro Rosta stretches the “pretty boy” into a real human being.

It’s a good and solid cast whose hard work has paid off.

Sarah Beaton’s set makes the absolute most out of the playing area: a raised platform with audience in an L-shape. This kitchen / all-purpose-room is very utilitarian while maintaining a casually believable voice. That and the costumes never pull focus.

Accolade-ladened Jamie Platt has created a seamless lighting-scape that snaps between scenes, along with the seamless sound design by Harry Blake. Fight director Bret Yount has managed to push the limits of very real stage fights, not quite too far. It’s delightful and believable to see these three men go from a drunken dance to a drunken brawl.

It is truly a delight to see so many elements come together to support this unique voice. Bravo!

Reviewer: Catherine Henry Lamm

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