The Worst Was This, Hope Theatre, London

The Worst Was This

Reviewer's Rating

Matte ‘O Brien’s The Worst Was This is an exceptional ‪pièce de théâtre where death and life, love and hate, revenge and compassion are entangled and impossible to separate. Pervasive and distressing at times, it is a must-see part of the Hope’s Gothic season.

In a post-apocalyptic time, where a vicious war has unsettled the normal way of life, Will, a young aspiring play writer arrives at a pub run by three sisters to meet Chris, a blemished poet who was thought to be dead.

The two men seal a pact that will allow Chris to bring his plays to the limelight through Will, and Will to learn to compose verses from Chris. From this point on a Shakespearean tragedy based on lies, love triangles and unfulfilled happiness takes action before the incredulous eyes of a public that is an integral part of the otherwise basic setting.

In an informal and living room-like space, the audience watches astonished the nude and wild side of human emotions as the three male and three female characters engage in bloody deeds. This, includes murdering people in a bid to defy fatality by bringing the dead back to life.  One of the most harrowing features of the play is the constant physical interaction that the characters have with each other and the beatings and fervent violence, with which they interrelate.

This metadrama is a precious work, where verse and prose meet to convey humour and pain, made vocal by the heartfelt interpretation of the six actors. Particularly memorable is Robin Hellier as Chris, the disfigured writer. Hellier manages to deliver with vehemence a part that is full of drama, without ever losing his personal ironic yet bittersweet touch.

Meanwhile, although at the centre of the story are Chris and Will, the interpretation of the three sisters played by Beth Kovarik (Odette), Lauren Hurwood (Rue) and Sarah Barron (Agatha) makes the characters far from negligible. Sensual and messy, the three talented actresses really bring the play to life with their performances.

The costumes, by Vari Gardner, are a great combination of modern and antique where Victorian corsets and waistcoats clash with Dr Martens combat boots and leather skirts.

The Worst Was This is a witty and entertaining production. Despite the simplicity of the plot, it is a complex analysis of the human ferocity brought to the extremes. Strange and morbid, it is a unique horror tragicomedy that will leave you dazzled.