Jordan Tannahill’s critically acclaimed Late Company shines a light on the dark and difficult aspects of 21st century parenting, exploring privacy, mental health and accountability through the lens of digital culture and bullying.
Trafalgar Studios transforms itself into the pristine home of the Shaun-Hasting’s, a dining room glimmering with wealth, domesticity and phallic sculptures yet saturated with the couple’s pain and grief over the suicide of their teenage son, Joel, whose transcendent presence on stage is intrinsically significant throughout, despite a lack of physicality. In an attempt to seek peace and solace, the Shaun-Hastings’ invite their Joel’s chief tormentor Curtis and his parents to a dinner party, which inevitably unravels to reveal intense emotional instability and desperate anguish from both sides of the table.
Tannahill manages to weave warmth and humour into this raw and distressing narrative, and as such it hits a nerve on a human level but also sparks debate and opens an interesting and culturally vital conversation about what it means to navigate adolescence and the cyber world in parallel.
Characterisation and the fluid yet turbulent dynamics on stage are deeply impressive, and this is testament to all members of the cast who embody their roles with subtle but authentic sincerity. Lucy Robinson really packs the punch in terms of emotion – portraying a grief-stricken mother with compassion, credibility, sensitivity and an uncompromising anger that fuels the action. David Leopold also gives an astounding performance as Curtis, who manages to maintain and express juvenile teenage angst and profound remorse throughout the whole performance. Late Company doesn’t dive headfirst into complicated issues, but rather delicately and sensitively handles the repercussions of tragedy with nuance and catharsis. It touches on hypocrisy, mental health discourse and the woes of contemporary parenting, and although difficult to digest, it’s hugely important and moving. Just don’t forget your tissues.
- By Jordan Tannahill
- Director: Michael Yale
- Cast includes: Lucy Robinson, Lisa Stevenson, David Leopold, Alex Lowe, Todd Boyce
- Trafalgar Studios, London
- Until 16th September 2017
- Review by Abigail Bryant
- 27 August 2017