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TRASH – White Bear Theatre, London

Writer: Tom Hunt

Director: Timothy J. Howe

Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

[rating:3.5]

Trash - White Bear TheatreAs long as they had a shower first and promised not to indulge in some of their more unsavoury habits, the TRASH kids would be fantastic to hang out with. They’re full of energy, creative, hospitable and above all funny. What more would you want from a group? If you’re thinking about inviting them over though be warned, they get their food from bins and are undeterred by bleach or bin-juice seasonings.

The ten friends are students, housemates and neighbours, but more importantly, they’re Freegans. They each give their reasons for not paying for food and scavenging or foraging for each meal and to some extent it makes sense. It’s cheaper, it’s kinder to the environment, it’s adventurous, it’s all sorts of great things to them and their enthusiasm catches on. The play is not a guide to the lifestyle, nor does it seek to convert, but it’s a useful subject to gather such diverse people around and provides a good few laughs. The characters (too many to mention but Craig Deuchar’s Liam, James Stirling-Gillies’ Curly Tom, Paddy Cooper’s Nigel (sounding uncannily like Jay Rayner) and Sophie Wardlow’s Vikki are all worthy of special attention) are well drawn and individual enough that in this ten character play there is no difficulty in remembering and tracking each one clearly.

The first half of the play does meander a little. There’s a lot of talking, character establishment and conversation that doesn’t move the story on at all. Truth be told, there could be quite a lot cut from the first half without much damage being done to the story. Perhaps this was the reason after the interval there seemed to be a few newly empty seats in the room?

Anyone who leaves, though, is doing themselves a real disservice. The second half is just great. The players are given a bit more room to be funny, the writing is a lot tighter and the story moves on at a much better pace. At times there is the feeling that this is a sketch from a larger show elongated to feature length but Tom Hunt’s handling of the characters’ individual stories here keep it interesting.

The second half is so different to the first it could well be a separate piece of work with the same characters. They bound around making tremendous use of Faye Bradley’s quite gross looking (ia compliment) set and giving their audience a show that one would have to be pretty hard hearted not to laugh with.

It’s the professional debut for many of the actors and backstage team and they have made the most of it. It is also the writer Tom Hunt’s first adventure in stage writing and there is some real potential shown. Between himself and the director Timothy J. Howe they’ve made a properly entertaining play. At times it feels like they take a reductio ad absurdum approach to the freeganism (peaches mixed with bin runoff to make wine?) but it works as a comedic vehicle. There are some story strands set up in the first act that are confusingly ignored in the second, and as mentioned the writing in this first part could well be tightened up, but these are errors easily forgiven with the second half.

Finishing with a superb comic set piece of a dinner party the impression is that there are clearly lessons still to be learned by the young cast and production crew, but they’re starting off their professional careers in fine style. Trash this certainly isn’t.

Runs until the 13th of April

 

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