In keeping with this week's theatrical themes tonight's show had the number 3 somewhere in its structure (well, it has a cast of 3, they can't all be elaborate triptychs) and someone fell asleep (a woman in the front row - well if you will take your shoes off and get comfy, these things will happen.) After her gimmicky set of monologues, Eight, a couple of years ago, I said I'd like to see what Ella Hickson could do with a full play and I've kept my word, despite it following that show into the now-majorly-overpriced¹ Trafalgar 2. Either Hickson likes to tempt fate or she's not yet figured out that theatre reviewers love an easy target because this play's called Precious Little Talent (either I missed something or the double meaning of this phrase wasn't evoked in the play.)
It's Christmas Eve and Joey (Olivia Hallinan) has arrived in New York to pay a surprise visit to her estranged father George (Ian Gelder.) Before braving his apartment she goes onto the roof where she meets Sam (Anthony Welsh) and, encouraged by jetlag, spends what he interprets as a very romantic couple of hours with him. It will later transpire that Sam is her father's carer, although the fact that George even needs a carer has been hidden from her. Hickson does still like giving her characters speeches to the audience (all three get at least one) but for the most part the cast interact and build some interesting relationships over the 90 minutes. There's some moving scenes interspersed with a lot of good gags and director James Dacre handles the mood shifts very well. Joey is quite an archetype of frosty British reserve (she rather adamantly sees herself as such, even) and part of the story's development involves her relaxing into Sam's more romantically optimistic view of the world. The views of British and American people are a bit troublesome and it often feels as if Hickson really enjoyed some time spent in the US and as a result has become an enthusiastic advocate of the American Dream. Thematically it's a bit all over the place but the script is entertaining and snappy, the show very well-acted. If the barefoot lady's nap was a judgement on the play, I'd say she was being a bit harsh.
Precious Little Talent by Ella Hickson is booking until the 30th of April at Trafalgar Studio 2.
¹and now frequently half-empty - dear Ambassador Group, these kinds of things have consequences, especially in theatres that mainly stage work without big-name writers or casts. Go back to about £20, make about the same as you are now on ticket sales and boost your bar and programme sales a bit instead would be my suggestion.