It's not often you get to see a fringe production of a play that is only three years old. Polly Stenham's No Quarter made its debut at the Royal Court Theatre upstairs in January 2013 and I remember it quite vividly so I was curious as to what Duelling Production's take would be.
The play is set in a dishevelled room in a grand, old house that has seen better days. There is a piano, an antique chest and a tatty sofa slouches against the wall. Buckets hang from the ceiling (I kept expecting to hear the plop of water from a leaky roof) and sheets of music make up the flooring - a reference to our protagonist's apparent musical talent.
That protagonist is Robin (Ryan Whittle), who is hiding his mother Lily (Miranda Wilson) after she absconded from her nursing home. Robin, we learn, was home schooled and coddled and, as a result, was ill-prepared for the outside world when Lily finally 'released' him. He is part spoiled child, part tortured artist with the accompanying disagreeable personality traits - he should compare notes with Matt Smith's Maxim in Unreachable.
The trick with No Quarter is to make you empathise with Robin. You have to feel his conflict when all other evidence points to the contrary; his behaviour, in the main, doesn't make him the most likeable of characters so it is a balancing act and one which Ryan Whittle pulls off.
Seeing No Quarter again gave me a new appreciation for the play and Duelling Production's has put together a worthy revival. It has a very limited run with just three more performances at the Network Theatre in Waterloo. It's 90 minutes, without an interval and I'm giving it four stars.
The Network Theatre is underneath Waterloo Station and you have to go past a security barrier to access it but don't be deterred, it's a great performance space once you've found it.