Psychodrama: exciting and mysterious theatre
“A crime against theatre”
At Never For Ever, a “found” space under what was Pizza East in Kentish Town is an exciting, brand new and socially distanced theatre.It seats just 26. The space is a large area beneath the restaurant entered from the street to the left.
An entertaining piece of new writing comes from Matt Wilkinson about an actor in her forties auditioning for the role of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in a theatrical remake of Hitchcock’s famous film Psycho. Is this a revolutionary reading of the original from the avant garde theatre director Peter? Could Norman Bates be played by a woman in a gender blind production?
Emily Bruni, whom I remember from the RSC and Donkey Heart, as well as her work for television tells the actor’s story. It starts with the call from her agent Emma.
She has an endearing eye for detail, maybe because she works in a high end designer clothes shop and we learn about the fashion she notices and lusts after. The fashion emporia in Marylebone High Street are her Mastermind special subject: John Smedley for men, her Le Comptoir des Cotonniers blouse and sought after French designer, Isabel Maron boots with their distinctive triangular heels.
The show has been beset by lockdowns. Originally scheduled for November 2020 and then January 2021, I was so pleased to see it this month. The witty tag line for the November showing was, “Dress by Ganni, Bra by Coco de Mer, Knife by Stanley”.
She describes the other people competing for the role and never fails to mention their clothes and shoes in a familiar rif. This doesn’t make her at all superficial as if she was a Kardashian or in The Only Way is Essex, because the humour is gentle and self-deprecating, never brash. We are entering her world, as an older woman actor where opportunities are thinning out. There are tales which will amuse theatre people; the preparation for auditions, allusions to parts in Casualty, “Kevin from the Poirot”.
She sees the competition as much younger than she is so when Emma phones apologetically to say that she has been called back to read with other people, she assumes that it isn’t good news. We are with her on this roller coaster ride but encouraged when Peter the high powered director asks, “Where are the women?”
When the director suggests that she should come to his hotel room the Weinstein alarms bells ring but nothing about Matt Wilkinson’s writing is obvious but the mystery is set up.
Gareth Fry’s sound scape is perfect and, with the lighting by Elliot Griggs, we switch place. A large lightbox sits on the wall behind Emily Bruni. Design is by James Turner.
I really liked this show, Matt Wilkinson directs his own writing which I found fresh and fun with lovely humour. Emily Bruni’s expressive acting in a one woman show, holds us poised for every word. There are plans for the Edinburgh Fringe where I see Psychodrama doing very well.
These found spaces can feel more exciting than conventional theatres as I think back to the one in the old St Martin’s School of Art (up 71 steps!) that hosted The Dazzle, The Bug and Unfaithful.
Written and directed by Matt Wilkinson
Director: Matt Wilkinson
Designer: James Turner
Lighting Designer: Elliot Griggs
Sound Designer: Gareth Fry
Presented by Psycho Productions and
Cusack Projects Ltd
with HighTideasassociation with HighTidesycho Productions and Cusack Projects Ltd in association with HighTide
Running Time: 70 minutes without an interval
Booking Thursday to Sunday to 3rd July
then at the Edinburgh Fringe
Never For Ever (Formerly Pizza East)
79 Highgate Road
London NW5 1TL
Rail/Tube: Kentish Town
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at
Never For Ever
on 11th June 2021