We’re Staying Right Here

Henry Devas
Metal Rabbit Productions in association with Park Theatre
Park Theatre (Park 90)
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Matt (Danny Kirrane) is a stand-up comedian, self-described as fat, who kicks off the show wearing a red cloak, giving high fives to the audience and telling a few jokes, but then there’s a blackout and the rumble of gunfire and he’s in his flat with doors and windows boarded up against intruders in the middle of a war zone. There may be laughs here, but if this is a comedy it is a very black one.

Though barricaded in to keep out any enemy, Matt is not alone. There is tall, skinny Tristabel (Tom Canton), who likes taking charge of things, and Benzies (Daniel Portman), energetically aggressive. They seem to be friends sharing this messed-up bolthole and they certainly know a lot about Matt, including the particular pills that he’s taking. Can any of this trio face what is going on outside? They seem to believe they can escape from their situation by going up the ladder, which they ritually keep clean and polished, but who will dare to go up it?

We’re Staying Right Here feels like a mixture of Beckett and menacing early Pinter with a dash of N F Simpson to which is added the mysterious American deus ex machina figure of Christopher (Liam Smith).

It may seem surreal but it is rooted in reality for Matt, a new father but still a child himself clutching his teddy bear, is the classic clown for whom life isn’t funny, living through the confusion and delusion of deep depression, sealing himself off from the world with its challenges and responsibilities.

Though the first act may seem shapeless and somewhat self-indulgent, it does comes into focus before an eventual return to reality.

Canton’s manipulative Tristable and Portman’s Benzies show the harm the depressed can do themselves in dark times and Smith’s Christopher perhaps represents false hope (reappearing as real help as friend Chris). They all play with a commitment that gives apparitions reality, while Danny Kirrane gives us a man struggling and often succumbing to the fear and impotence that overcomes him.

Jez Pike directs this claustrophobic production (with fights arranged by Roger Bartlett) with dexterity. It doesn’t try to explain things but leaves the audience to interpret its multiple symbols, such as the tinsel fringe above Elizabeth Wright’s setting.

Howard Loxton