Published: 16 September 2010
by STEPHEN GRIFFIN
THIS Is How It Goes… or is it? For nothing in Neil LaBute’s clever, thought-provoking and ultimately rather chilling three-hander is quite what it seems.
Playing fast and loose with the truth, stereotypes and our preconceptions, the play, which last resurfaced in London at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005, is essentially a fairly bog-standard love triangle.
LaBute’s brilliance lies in his inversion of the clichés.
In suburban America, two old high school friends – the enigmatically named Man (Tom Greaves) and quondam cheerleader Belinda (Gemma Atkinson, formerly Lisa Hunter in Hollyoaks) – meet and get chatting.
It soon becomes apparent that Man, our (by his own admission) “unreliable narrator”, always fancied Belinda but she went on to marry the rich, black school hunk, Cody (Okezie Morro). But Man would have us believe that all is not well within the marriage, and when he goes to lodge with them, things take a distinct turn for the worse.
Simply staged, this is a play that relies entirely on its writer and cast.
Fortunately the performances (American accents et al) are pitch perfect, fully doing justice to LaBute’s dazzling script.
If I were to nitpick I would say that they’re a tad too young.
They would really have to have been a good decade older to have “enjoyed” the history of which they speak… but hey, perhaps that’s yet another layer of confusion in this Russian doll of a play.
That said, this is a very strong cast indeed.
Coming on like Shaggy in Scooby-Doo, Greaves’ Man takes centre stage, his initial engaging gaucheness giving a real edge to what follows.
Atkinson, too, is excellent, deftly carrying off the piece’s most ambiguous character.
However, it’s Morro’s brooding but multi-layered Cody who dominates. He has genuine presence: one tends to look at him even when he’s doing nothing.
It is difficult – and would be unfair – to elaborate too much on the proceedings.
Suffice to say that you should take nothing at face value. But if you keep your ears (and your mind) open, as David Frost would have it, the clues are there.
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