20 March 2018

Vincent River at Park Theatre was riveting


There was a rush of Philip Ridley plays early last year and then again this. Vincent River was one of three different Philip Ridley plays on across London in just a few weeks. I would have gone to see this wherever it was on and being at Park Theatre, one of my regular haunts, just made things like travel and easting easier.

I eagerly forked out my £14.50 for a seat. I presume that was a preview price as it was ridiculously cheap. It was the first night of the run but that was just a co-incidence and was chosen because it was about the only free evening I had during the run.

I also forked out £12 for Park Theatre's new Pizza and Drink deal to make the food even easier. That sort of worked but as a vegetarian I only had two choices of pizza and one of those would have been cheaper to buy without going for the deal. The London Bohemia Lager was nice.

The main show started at 7:30 and keen to secure a good seat that is when I joined the queue for Vincent River. There was only one person in front of me in the queue and, not unexpectedly, he was another Ridley fan. We both claimed seats in the front row.

We were in a slightly dishevelled living room, not unlike that for Killing Time. In the room was, Anita, Louise Jameson in an aggressive red wig. There was a knock on the door and in came Davey (Thomas Mahy), a young lad who moved nervously and continuously.

For the next hour or so we watched as the couple sparred with each other. There was a reason that Davey was there and Anita knew it. There was also a reason why Anita had moved into a new flat.

As they sparred the emotions grew in intensity and in direction. Davey threatened to walked out at times, was told to go at others and they also shared drinks, drugs and a few kisses. As the emotions waxed and waned it was hard to predict how it would all end though I was not expecting many laughs.

Their conversations also uncovered more about their shared past, and why their pasts were shared, and it was the typical Ridley unravelling of layers to expose the raw truth. That truth hit in a recollection of a bus journey that Davey had taken and that changed the whole narrative.

As the play drew to its conclusion it became more of a monologue as Davey described the pivotal events that had brought the two together. It was powerful stuff.

Vincent River was the most normal Ridley play that I had seen. Yes it had dark secrets that were finally exposed but there was no fantasy in the story and no strange characters to explore. It was a simple dark believable story told the Ridley way and that made it magical.

This was the first night and afterwards Philip Ridley disappeared back stage with his notes which meant that I had no chance to bump into the cast afterwards. I made up for that a few days later when I was back at Park Theatre for another play, A Passage to India, on the press night for Vincent River and was able to have a very quick congratulatory word with Thomas Mahy then. 

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