Review – Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Jonny Russo, Flash Fringe Festival, University of Northampton 3rd Year BA Acting Students, Northampton Playhouse, 28th March 2023

Stuck between a Rock This is how Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place is described online: “a solo comedy play exploring the theme of marital divorce from the children’s point of view. It is set as a mountaineering incident gone wrong and as Frankie awaits his fate, his thoughts cast back on the events of his life.”

Frankie is indeed “on the edge”; after an accident that separates him from the rest of his mountaineering party, he has turn to his inner resources to survive, and depending on what happens he could be facing a life or death situation. They say your memories come flooding back to you when you die – and maybe that is what is happening here. Certainly, Frankie takes us back through his school life, his inadequate and unhelpful experiences with counselling and therapy, and his imagination of what his parents’ happy wedding day would have looked like (had he been there). But, in the end, there’s only him – and will he survive?

Jonny RussoThis delightful one-man performance by Jonny Russo is a joy to watch. In complete control of the stage, he holds our attention through some laugh out loud moments and others when you can feel your breath tighten in your chest. He delivers the piece with absolute conviction, never for a second breaking out of character, allowing his (and/or Frankie’s) personality to shine through at several moments, making it even more believable. He has a sure-fire way of delivering off-the-cuff remarks to their maximum comic effect, but also a piercing gaze that lets you see straight into his soul.

If I have a criticism, which is of the play rather than the performance, I felt there were one or two of Frankie’s relived moments in the past that could have been pushed even further for even more character insight. But that is a quibble. Mr Russo is obviously going to be One To Watch. The audience all loved it.

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