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Force of Habit (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Force of Habit

Society: Barons Court Theatre

Venue: Baron’s Court Theatre. Below the Curtain’s Up Pub, 28a Comeragh Road, London W14 9HR

Credits: By Roz Wyllie. Directed by Leo Bacica. Presented by Kibo Productions

Force of Habit

3 stars

This sixty minute two hander is refreshingly unpretentious and free from “edginess”. It simply explores the pretty conventional dynamics of a fifteen-year relationship which starts with shining eyes but eventually unravels mostly because of miscommunication.

Martha (Mercedes May Lopez) and John (Michael Hajiantonis) are ordinary people to whom nothing strange or unlikely happens. Instead we get strong story telling and I  liked Wyllie’s writing which blends dialogue with thoughts spoken aloud so that all the subtext is explicit and the story is three dimensional. We can clearly see the characters misunderstanding each other.

Lopez is good as the smitten young woman who meets a slightly older married man in a bar. Soon they’re living together and becoming the parents of twins. The play is nothing if not fast paced. Hajiantonis presents a character who is decent and reasonable but increasingly anxious about money despite the well paid job he feels he has to take but which means he’s away several nights each week while his partner back home struggles with worsening alcohol dependency and obesity (she mentions the latter and we have to imagine it).

Force of Habit is sparely staged with just a table. There are a few cardboard boxes nearby which symbolise moving out and/or on. usefully they contain all the other props and costume items the actors need: John’s laptop, bottles of wine, a dress for Lopez and so on.

It’s nicely directed, watchable and – as an expositional investigation of a very commonplace experience –  reasonably entertaining.

First published by Sardines:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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