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Deny, Deny, Deny, Park Theatre, review: ‘thought provoking tale of love, revenge and 21st century science’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 November 2016

Shvorne Marks and Juma Sharkah in Deny Deny Deny at the Park  Theatre. Picture: Darren Bell

Shvorne Marks and Juma Sharkah in Deny Deny Deny at the Park Theatre. Picture: Darren Bell

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Set in the near future, Maitland’s play presents a well-researched vision of 21st Century scientific developments in gene editing

“You don’t cross the line when you do it, but when you first consider doing it,” cautions the Mephistophelean coach in journalist turned playwright Jonathan Maitland’s take on the topical issue of sports doping.

Set in the near future, Maitland’s play presents a well-researched vision of 21st Century scientific developments in gene editing - a form of DNA refashioning that leaves no detectable traces of toxins in the bloodstream.

There’s little that’s startling in the story-telling. Eve, a London girl from a deprived background rejects her devoted, journalist boyfriend Tom (Daniel Fraser) - always at hand to provide solace and a vegetable smoothie - when coolly seductive coach Rona (Zoë Waites) promises she’ll take her from sprinter world number 48 to Gold if she’ll embrace gene editing.

Once signed up, Eve’s highs and lows follow swiftly: a meteoric rise in ranking offset by frightening physical symptoms - she cannot see the colour green, despite Rona’s promise that injecting RNA drugs is as innocuous as drinking orange juice.

Director Brendan O’Hea and designer Polly Sullivan embrace the epic bravura of sports competitions with a sleek monochrome, neon-lit set and some novel slow-motion racing-track sequences. Waites makes a compelling baddie though Rona’s line in sage metaphors comes at such an insistent rate that it becomes a bit trying: power doesn’t have to be portentous.

Fraser brings a solid humanity to his role that helps underscore Eve’s transformation once the drugs take hold; a shift that’s overplayed as her eyes glaze with robotic intensity in the second half. As a tale of love, revenge, jealousy and 21st century science, Deny Deny Deny is a thought-provoking package.

Rating: 3/5 stars


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