Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford
Monday 29th October 2012
After enjoying Reform's spring visit with Nick Lane's My Favourite Summer earlier this year, this premier tour of the same author's Second's Out was eagerly anticipated.
An almost empty set allowed for each of the various locations to be seamlessly linked through a simple move of a chair or change in lighting. A decision integral to maintaining the pace of the performance, it worked excellently. A varied and well executed lighting plot made for a successful distinction between each scene.
Sy, an omnipresent protagonist, was our guide through the peaks and troughs of the story. Played by Ryan Cerenko, Sy was a likeable and recognisable character. Recently graduated from university but working in a bar in his home town, he tirelessly maintained his immature friendship with his school friend. Portrayed with innocent loyalty, a clear confident delivery and a charming awkwardness in his sporting prowess, this was an eminently watchable performance. Kivan Dene's Tom blossomed from a puerile lout to a dedicated and controlled sportsman. His sharp delivery generated much of the comedy, and his careful characterisation made for a believably dislikable rogue who became gradually easier to warm towards. The three female characters were each portrayed by Amy Walsh. She was straight and level headed as Sy's fiancee Vicky, with a brilliantly voiciferous release during the final Boxing match, but particularly shone as the complicated bimbo Zoe with some truly touching moments as the story developed. David Walker was hilarious as Foster, the Boxing coach with the skeletons in his closet. His gruff, eccentric characterisation was made all the more amusing for the constant insistance on wearing only his underwear. As Foster's back story is revealed however, the humour was entirely set aside to make way for a positively heart wrenching performance in the climax of Act 2.
The writing is excellent, with plenty of slick, fast-paced wit - especially through Act 1 - but also a proper story which was gritty and full of realism, even within the somewhat exaggerated characters. Reform Theatre produce this style of play with confidence and skill, and this is a production well worth catching.