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REVIEW Theo James, Emilia Fox and love and talent in the internet age - Sex With Strangers, Hampstead Theatre

Review: This Must Be The Place, The Vaults #VaultFestival

 

This isn't a London story, we are told at the start of Brad Birch and Kenneth Emson's play This Must Be The Place, but London features in the two interweaving storylines. For Adam (James Cooney) it is a place to get on a (stolen) bike and get away from. For Tate and Matty (Feliks Mathur and Hamish Rush) it is a place to run to with the promise of a job and a new start. But while London connects the two stories the play feels likely it is loosely about surviving modern life.

Molly Roberts completes the cast as Lily, Adam's girlfriend and apart from the opening and closing segment the two pairs perform independently switching swiftly between the two tales. They hold mics which give the play a stand up/pub performance feel - I'm not sure if that was the point.

Adam is troubled for reasons that don't immediately become clear. He throws away his phone so that he is no longer a slave to calls, texts and social media. Disconnects from modern life, misses his phone when he can't get Deliveroo. Lily panics when he hasn't posted anything for a few hours and he doesn't return her calls. She wants to talk to him about the future.

Tate and Matty are the Waiting For Godot figures of the piece. Godot in this instance is a dodgy man who has promised them some painting and decorating work in London. They pass the time with amusing banter and sometimes some honest chat - both are running away from something.

The comic dialogue is perfectly timed but there is also a poignancy in some of the personal stories the characters tell. I'd watch any of this cast again and there is a lot of merit in the scripts but while it is an interesting and often entertaining watch it doesn't feel quite focused enough to have a lasting impact. It touches upon lots of different issues without properly exploring any one.

I'm giving the play three and half stars and four stars for performances. It's 60 minutes and runs until Feb 12.

 

 

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