Theatre Review: What We’re Up Against
Seven short plays portray social portraits from American life that will have you in stitches - in WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington.
SEVEN plays sounds like a lot to squeeze into one 80minute sitting, a brain addling theatre banquet of too many courses. I thought so, but I was wrong.
What We’re Up Against, the UK premiere of seven short plays about contemporary America by Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright Theresa Rebeck, is a showcase of sharp scripts and fine acting.
Short scenes from American life are performed in revue format rather than full blown plot-led drama - think Alan Bennett Talking Heads-style sassy social portraits. The cast also display a real flair for character acting and comic timing.
Among the all-American figures held up to scrutiny are two masochistic whiskey-drinking male architects, a young couple of aspiring actors on a daytrip to the ocean, and a woman with a head-set hotline to God.
But the more original writing comes in good old-fashioned situational comedy, including a grieving son who is manoeuvred into comforting a funeral parlour attendant over his mother’s coffin. The comedy of life’s sometimes mystifying about turns is performed with sublime precision.
The Old Red Lion has won a well-deserved reputation for staging exciting new American writing in recent years. What We’re Up Against continues the tradition – and quite when you least expect it, it will have you in stitches.
- 1 When the Arsenal team had tea with the Queen in Buckingham Palace
- 2 Missing: 29-year-old Islington woman found 'safe and well'
- 3 The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast: Where, and when, the planes will fly over north and east London
- 4 'Wrong place, wrong time': Men convicted after fatal mistaken revenge shooting
- 5 New cabinet announced for Islington Council
- 6 Appeal hearing of MP Claudia Webbe gets under way
- 7 Jailed: Members of 'sophisticated' drugs crime gang sentenced
- 8 40 firefighters called to scene as Highbury flat damaged
- 9 Travel bulletin: Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham
- 10 Gunners pub back open for Premier League climax
* Showing at the Old Red Lion Theatre, in St John Street, EC1 until Thursday, March 3.