Talk Show by Alistair McDowall - described by Simon Stephens as England's most exciting playwright - is an accomplished and polished piece brilliantly brought to life by rep company.
It's set in the basement bedroom of 26-year-old unemployed graduate Sam (Ryan Sampson) where he spends his evenings recording a live chat show for the web. Upstairs his newly laid-off dad, Bill (Ferdy Roberts), and grandad Ron (Alan Williams) do very little chatting especially not about Sam's Uncle Jonah (Jonjo O'Neill) who turns up out of the blue having disappeared without a word several years earlier.
The threat of having the broadband switched off to save money becomes the least of Sam's worries as he tries to hide Jonah who is a bit of a live wire, a loose cannon who is concealing something.
Alistair McDowall's skill is in melding the funny with the tragic and while not necessarily offering any happy endings manages to imbue a certain feeling of hope.
Ryan Sampson proves what a versatile actor he is, switching on his chat-show host persona when the cameras roll but it was Jonjo O'Neill who gave the standout performance for me. You were never in much doubt that Jonah is damaged. His devil-may-care attitude never quite fully hiding his mental fragility and anguish. When Jonah emotionally breaks it is like he in physical pain and it is heart-breaking to watch. Great piece of acting.
Alistair McDowall will definitely be on my list of playwrights to watch out for and Jonjo is already on my list of actors. Great end to the season which I'll rate overall in another post.