Flinch (Old Red Lion Theatre)

Posted: May 31, 2019 in Theatre

Writer: Emma Hemingford.     Director: Rosalind Brody


They say that writers should begin by writing about what they know best and there are more than a few hints that Emma Hemingford has followed that advice to the letter with her new one-act play, Flinch, a screwball relationship comedy. In it, she plays Jess, an out-of-work actor who takes up the suggestion that she should write a play for herself to perform and then bases the play on her own crumbling relationship.

Jess has just moved from Bristol to London to share a flat with her boyfriend of three years, Mark (Joseph Reed). He has a boring job in finance and he hates plays, except for ones in which Jess is appearing (which are none). The play begins with the couple returning to their flat from a night at the theatre, seeing a play about cats in which all the actors are naked. Mark had loathed it and few would blame him.

On the journey home, Jess had escaped unharmed from an assault by a mugger with a pretend gun, actually a banana, but instead of rushing to her aid, Mark had, momentarily, flinched. The incident triggers an argument that exposes the uncertainties and insecurities  of a frail new(ish) relationship and asks questions about gender roles. Does a modern woman really still expect her man to be a knight in shining armour and does a modern man need to feel uncomfortable about not filling that role?

As the argument deepens, the relatively minor incident grows in significance and the crazed figure of the banana-wielding mugger (Andrew Armitage) comes back repeatedly to haunt the couple, even in their most intimate moments. Hemingford’s writing is humorous and insightful and director Rosalind Brody gives the play a breezy production. The white set looks as if it has been assembled from flat packs, making it the obvious home for a mid-twenties London couple and the writer and Reed give natural performances that bring out both the comedy and their characters’ everyday anxieties.

Flinch may be slight and a little bit overlong, but freshness is its winning asset and, hopefully, Mark would find it a great deal more agreeable than the one about the cats.

Performance date: 29 May 2019

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com

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