Review – Town, Royal and Derngate Northampton, 24th June

TownYet another inventive staging at the Royal as we sit opposite each other with the stage down the middle, making you feel you are on the pavement whilst the action takes place on the street. The action takes place all over Northampton actually, although it could be anywhere really – you can replace the local references with others to make it feel like it applies to your home town.

But D C Moore, the author, is from Northampton, and has already given us his wonderful Honest earlier this year (on at Edinburgh this summer) and there are some parallels. John is a loner. You can tell that relationships have been tricky. His family have a lot of baggage. He has never been able to cope with it that well. The play starts with his return to Northampton from London where he has been trying to carve out an independent Mark Rice-Oxley lifestyle, but something happens which makes it impossible for him to stay and he has to escape back to familiar surroundings, uncomfortable though they may be.

Parents, an old friend, a new friend and the town itself both help and hinder his progress. It’s quite a simple tale but emotionally charged with fantastic performances throughout, but for me especially by Mark Rice-Oxley as John who conveys desperate to joyful with superb conviction, Joanna Horton and by Joanna Horton as Anna, his old friend, who has to cope with his unexpected return. The exchanges between the two as they touch on old subjects are electric with what’s left unspoken and feel so very very true to life.

90 minutes with no interval is something I tend not to look forward to, but this was one play where I did not want it to stop.

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