Euro TV nul points, top marks Nuneaton
The Living Room, The Crown pub, Nuneaton, May 13.
The Living Room is actually a trilogy of plays, all set where it says on the tin: a living room.
Two of the three were performed in this production: one dealing with the emotional aftermath of abortion, and the other testicular cancer.
How’s that for a billing on a night when the alternative is the kitsch-fest TV orgy that is Eurovision?
Well, much as I like the sheer absurdity of Euroviz, I doubt any act matched for talent the show on offer at this make-shift theatre above a town centre pub.
And unlikely as it seems, given the topics, there was an abundance of humour, albeit dark and mostly laddish, to sweeten the pill of some explicit and at times brutal emotional confrontations.
That both plays, WINE and No Help Sent, gripped an audience of about 50 for more than two hours, was a triumph that deserves, and will doubtless achieve, a bigger stage.
WINE is a two-hander with Harriet Clarke and Josh Glenister as Sam and Mark, a twenties-something couple whose love was torn apart when their child was aborted.
Their sheer acting talent in handling what at times is a ferocious clash of verbal attacks was jaw-droppingly impressive and marks the pair out as obvious stars of the future.
The emotional depth of their portrayal has its bedrock in an exceptional script by Nuneaton-born actor-playwright Jack West (pictured above), a fellow graduate of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).
His examination of such a complex issue as abortion belies his 24 years as he about-turns many of the perceived gender perspectives..
Perhaps because of his age, he is also not afraid to use comedy to lighten the mood before plunging back into darkness.
No Help Sent explores how a group of lads sharing a flat deal with the news that one of them has testicular cancer.
But more pertinently in the light of the impending general election, it is a diatribe against the systematic dismantling of the NHS, particularly by the stealth of privatisation.
Too obvious a nail with which to hammer the Government, you might think.
But despite it sometimes fatal consequences, testicular cancer is fertile ground for the double entendre and less subtle humour. And he exploits it.
It’s hard to resist and West grabs the chance with both hands (I know, it’s impossible to avoid) but the gifted young writer uses it to set up the audience for sucker punches of reality.
Again the cast of actors, all from LIPA, excel in a tour de force of verbal battles. All except one, who can be excused as he is gagged and tied up.
Despite that, the actor Simon Winterman - West’s drama teacher at King Edward 6 College -gives a master class in stealing a scene without moving his lips.
Less is sometimes more, as was also proven by Portugal winning Eurovision, as it unexpectedly transpired.