Tues 31st May – Sat 4th June, 7.30pm
A too clever young man, struggling to come to terms with life, the universe and everything attempts suicide and is sent to a vicar to work the inclination to stare longing at the edges of train platforms out of his system. A series of dialogues ensue. Thankfully Matthew Parvin is far too interesting a writer to subject us to much ordinary teenage angst. Instead, he offers an ingenious script that is finely tuned and surprising. Parvin has created characters who are all about game playing, and puts them to work both against each other and as a two-man tease to draw their audience into the fraught contest of wills. At the play’s disposal are Jeremy Neumark Jones and Sam Smith, the latter of whom should be commended for a last-minute switch of actor and director. Smith struggles at times with what is for his character Regis an occasionally sparse script. However, though with little room to manoeuvre, Smith is attentive always to opportunities for subtle changes of tone or movement, and uses the dramatic space he is given with efficiency and imagination. Smith’s Regis is cleverly drafted so as to move in several dimensions at once; beneath the calm of the vicar’s collar is a man struggling to maintain his authority, to come up with answers and to pin down the mercurial young man, Jeremy, who he must help, though it might cost him the assurance of his faith. Jeremy Neumark Jones delivers a truly delicious performance as Regis’ patient, the disturbed young man, Jeremy. Sarcastic, mocking and arrogant, this overachiever is the epitome of the teenage nightmare, and one which seems to turn up most frequently, smugly inspecting their own shoes, at Oxford Fresher events every year. Yet there is something curiously sympathetic about Jeremy – a charm in his quickness and flair for storytelling, and a naked vulnerability when even this falls away. The tensely fought battle for control between Regis and Jeremy is all-consuming, and handled with an energy that rises to electrifying heights and then sinks to a quiet hum only to spark up again. Indeed, this play promises to be as brilliantly bipolar as Jeremy: intriguing power politics, bombastic comedy and a very sharp sense of human pain. Be excited.