Thursday 4 August 2011

Chapel Street - Luke Barnes @ Old Red Lion Theatre

“You know sometimes when you’re drinking, you feel a bit ill and you dread every swig, but you do it anyway because you want to get drunk?”

Chapel Street is a bit like those government speeding adverts – all is fun and games until *wham* the car hits.  It’s a suitable warning as to the dangers of alcoholism and drink culture, one that’s incredibly funny along the way.

This clever piece of writing is hopefully the first of many from Luke Barnes.  It details a drunken night in the lives of Joe and Kirsty, two characters whose lives are drawn together like magnets with electric effect.  The play is structured as two separate monologues performed simultaneously, juxtaposed with hilarious effect.  It’s a witty script, with each character’s anecdotes serving as both comic patter and comment on the opposing story.  Though the humour was particularly crude, it proved totally appropriate to the two characters and had the audience in stitches throughout.  And this is a crude world of sex, alcohol and sleazy bars; a world that the stiflingly hot Old Red Lion Theatre highlighted.  As the two narratives intertwine, the play builds towards a shocking climax (literally).  Though the final twist was a little predictable, it served as a suitably sobering end.

Kendrick and Zmitrowicz excelled as Joe and Kirsty, the casting perfect.  Both performed with natural ease and exceptional comic timing.  This was especially impressive due to the alternating nature of the script – neither actor seemed like they were aimlessly waiting for their next cue.  Kendrick successfully portrayed both the laddish banter and downtrodden aspirations of a broken man, whilst Zmitrowicz’s Vicky Pollard-esque delivery illustrated endearing naivety. 

Chapel Street is a perceptive representation of modern drink culture in theatrical form: intelligently written and shockingly funny.


Old Red Lion Theatre, 2-20 August,