Play of Two Halves

“I think you saved my life”


Catherine Ashdown as Bo and Kadiesha Belgrave as Aicha. (Photo : Alex Brenner)

I had an issue with Grud.  It is about a very real problem of a young college student coping with caring for her father who is an alcoholic.  This very serious issue is juxtaposed with this same student’s relationship with a likeable misfit classmate who treats us to high comedy.  I was uncomfortable with the interrelation of comedy and what is child abuse in Sarah Power’s play.

The split between the two areas, the flat and the college is reflected in Noemi Daboczi’s set which has them at either end of the stage with a sloping floor joining them.  The flat area is strewn with beer cans, fish and chip papers and dirty clothes as well as a battered leather armchair and stool.   I also did not understand why the flat and college areas had to change place in the play.

The opening scene is of a very quirky student Aicha (Kadiesha Belgrave) welcoming us to her Space Club.  The projected image of the galaxy fills the room and there is Richard Strauss’s music.  Bo (Catherine Ashdown) comes in clutching a timetable.  Aicha says , “Helllooooo.  And welcome to SPACE.” Aicha presses a button and a projected image of the galaxy fills the room and there is Richard Strauss’s music.  Aicha says, “Are you not here for Space Club?” Bo has come to find the Physics Extended Project. 

Catherine Ashdown as Bo and Karl Theobald as Grud (Photo: Alex Brenner)

Aicha is very prickly in response to any hint of criticism when Bo says Space Club sounds like a children’s television programme. Aicha is a master face puller, rolling her large expressive eyes and making us giggle at her displeasure.  But Bo is used to tolerating dysfunctional behaviour and sticks with her new found acquaintance.  The excitement of Aicha when Bo says she liked her speech when campaigning to be a Student representative shows Aicha’s extreme swings of mood.

When Bo goes back home to her father (Karl Theobold) whom she calls “Grud”  we see that she is the one doing the parenting as her father fails to go to work.  In a memorable moment, when she asked whether he has bought any food, the fridge is opened to reveal several multi-bags of crisps.

Later Grud will try to celebrate Bo’s academic success but the planned event is a disaster.  I suppose what we have here is the failure of social services to pick up how Bo is living.  Bo doesn’t tell anyone about it because the likely consequence would be some sort of care arrangement for her. This is my first disappointment from Hampstead’s Downstairs space for a long time but I look forward to seeing Kadiesha Belgrave in a true comedy.

Catherine Ashdown as Bo and Kadiesha Belgrave as Aicha. (Photo : Alex Brenner)

Production Notes

Written by Sarah Power

Directed by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart



Catherine Ashdown

Kadiesha Belgrave

Karl Theobald


Director: Jaz Woodcock-Stewart

Designer:  Noemi Daboczi

Lighting Designer: Cheng Keng

Sound Designer: Cutty Sark


Running Time: One hour 40 minutes without an interval

Booking to 3rd August 2024



Hampstead Theatre 

Eton Avenue

Swiss Cottage

London NW3 3EU

Phone: 020 7722 9301


Tube: Swiss Cottage


by Lizzie Loveridge at

Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

on 8th July 2024