Have really wanted to see Harry Melling of Harry Potter cousin fame take on a lead role since he stole every scene he was in during Women Beware Women at the National last year. And so last week at the Trafalgar Studios 2 I got my chance.
In Christopher Hampton's little performed When Did You Last See My Mother? Melling plays Ian, a super intelligent, precocious 18-year-old who is sharply witty, manipulative and self-deprecating.
It's set in Ian's London bedsit in the 1960s when change is in the air. Ian is sharing with good looking, affluent school chum Jimmy (the fab Sam Swainsbury, last seen in Propeller's amazing Comedy of Errors and Richard III) before they head off to Oxford.
For all of Ian's precocious confidence, intelligence and needling he retains an air of youthful vulnerbility as evidenced in his affairs of the heart. Ian has a crush on Jimmy, who doesn't seem to have any problem in attracting attention from men or women, and he doesn't quite know what to do about it. That is until Jimmy's mother (Abigail Cruttenden) pays a visit to escape from the trials of married life and domesticity and Ian sees her as a way of getting closer to Jimmy.
It also helps that Melling gives a great performance. He transforms effortlessly from one of Ian's mood swings to another but with enough charm to convince as the seducer of his best friend's mother. Once again he is a commanding and engaging presence and certainly someone I'll be keeping a close eye out for in the future.
Hampton was only 18 when he wrote When Did You Last See My Mother? and it is an incredibly accomplished piece of writing for his age brought skillfully to life here. It is funny, warm, tense and emotional and definitely worth a look. I'm going to give it five stars and might have to go and see it again before it finishes on the 8 October.
Production image: Marilyn Kingwill
Well the connection comes through Harry himself as he was in Women Beware Women with the lovely Samuel Barnett who of course was in Bright Star with Mr W.