The Wasp**** (Hampstead Theatre Downstairs)

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Theatre

The WaspThis will be a very short review. If too much were to be written about Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s skilfully crafted little thriller, spoilers would be unavoidable. Two thirtysomething ladies meet in a coffee bar for the first time since schooldays, 20 years earlier. Carla (MyAnna Buring) is heavily pregnant with her fifth child, impoverished, chain-smoking and wearing a track suit, whilst Heather (Sinead Matthews) is childless, affluent and swathed in an expensive pashmina. What follows is a little like a new version of Sleuth, but these protagonists are female, the setting is modern and the twisting storyline is occasionally close to credible. Implausibilities are inevitable, but the writer has mastered the art of papering over cracks in her plot with engaging dialogue and just the right measure of wry humour. She also incorporates themes of serious social concern, but it would be a sin to reveal what they are, except to mention that the title refers to some ghastly tropical insect which is used as a metaphor for the actions of one of the characters. Under Tom Attenborough’s crisp direction, the two principal actors are both frighteningly believable. Thrillers are a little out of fashion in modern theatre, so this boost to the genre is very welcome. An absorbing and refreshingly different 90 minutes.

Performance date: 2 February 2015

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