Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Replay, Griffin Theatre, Stables

The power of memory and the ways we use it to re-interpret ourselves are at the centre of "Replay", the debut script from Phillip Kavanaugh. It's a clever piece with some virtuosic moments both for writer and for actor as realities and identities start to shift, as the characters change who they were and subsequently who they are now. 

The intimate space of Griffin's stages are a perfect setting for this three-hander. There's a careful setup of two brothers, one successful, one screwed-up, both slightly troubled by the memory of what happened to their older brother. But as they revisit the past, their description changes ... and suddenly their brother is back with them. But this is only the beginning of a trip through multiple identities, fates and possibilities. 

Differentiating the multiple selves and keeping the audience with them is the challenge facing Anthony Gooley, Alfie Gledhill and Jack Finsterer - and it's one they ride with aplomb. Going across from wild comedy to deep pathos, they are the bed on which the show rests.

Lee Lewis keeps things moving smoothly with tight direction. If it isn't a 100% perfect evening it may be that as a brief 80 minute tightly controlled piece, it's more a "demonstration of what we can do" rather than a full exploration of its themes - in particular, there's a hint as to how separated men sometimes characterise their relationships after the fact that could play out more fully in the play than it actually does - but as a showcase for the performers and writers skills, this is very effective.

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