The Crumple Zone (King’s Head Theatre)

Posted: November 27, 2018 in Theatre

Writer: Buddy Thomas      Director: Robert McWhir


There is little Christmas cheer for the five characters in Buddy Thomas’s 2001 one-act play The Crumple Zone. Set in the Staten Island apartment shared by three youngish actors, the comic melodrama centres on crumpled love lives that lead to anguish at a time when the surrounding city celebrates the festive season.

Terry (Lucas Livesey) is an off off-off-Broadway actor who makes ends meet by frying pork chops at a local diner while faking excuses to take time off to attend futile auditions. His roommate Sam (Natasha Edwards) is away on a long tour with a show, but her boyfriend of four years, Alex (Nick Brittain) stays on in her room. Alex’s current acting job is playing Santa Claus in a store, but his main preoccupation seems to be a burgeoning romance with Buck (Robbie Capaldi), an office worker at the Staten Island mall. 

The love triangle is predictable and quickly becomes tiresome, but the play stays afloat thanks to Terry, the only character in whom Thomas shows any real interest. At first sight, Terry is a stereotypical, flamboyantly gay New Yorker, bristling with bitchiness and sarcastic wit, but Livesey finds poignancy too. He is an outsider looking in on the relationships of others, still waiting for his own first ex-boyfriend and getting fleeting solace by picking up a married man, Roger (Faros Xenofos) on the ferry. The writer feeds Terry all the play’s best lines and Livesey spits them out with relish. 

Richard Lambert’s cramped set design, which focuses on an orange two-seat sofa and an over-decorated Christmas tree, becomes progressively more cluttered with seasonal paraphernalia as the play proceeds. The claustrophobic feel suits Robert McWhir’s fired-up production, which goes some way towards compensating for the play’s flimsiness and shortage of substance.

Thomas finds just about enough Christmas sparkle to fill an hour and then he allows the play to limp on for a further 15 minutes. Thankfully, mainly due to Livesey’s Terry, the hour turns out to be a reasonably happy one.

Performance date: 26 November 2018

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

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