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Vincent River (Susan Elkin reviews)

Vincent River – ★★★★
By Philip Ridley
performance date: 21 May 2019

Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy. Photo: Scott Rylander


This searingly powerful two hander about, among other things homophobia dates from 2000. It is as fresh and, sadly, as relevant as ever. First seen at Park Theatre last year the production is a fine example of how two people from different generations – Louise Jameson an experienced, mature actor and Thomas Mahy at the beginning of his career – can work together with sensitive intelligence. Full marks to director, Robert Chevara for enabling that chemistry to resonate so effectively.

Jameson’s character, Anita is mourning her gay son, Vincent who was murdered in a East End gang attack. Davey (played by Mahy) has been hovering outside her home so she invites him in because she is convinced he knows things about her son. Eventually they talk properly, begin to relax with each other and we learn what really happened to Vince, the agony of which has you on the edge of your seat.

Jameson’s Anita is variously brittle, sardonic, edgy and anguished. At one point she howls in despair and it’s pretty memorable. This is a mother bereaved of her only child in the most terrible way. The pain is literally epic – with a strong sense of Greek drama.

I hope we’re going to see a lot more of Thomas Mahy very soon because he is an outstanding actor. Initially his character is very abrupt and truculent and Mahy does it beautifully just as he manages the gradual thawing (helped by gin and joints) and revelation. Just as Anita has lost a son, so Davey has lost his mother to cancer. And, no spoilers, but he’s struggling to acknowledge his own sexuality. There are some long impassioned speeches towards the end of the play which to which Mahy brings electifying passion, pain and angst. It’s a bravura performance.

Louise Jameson and Thomas Mahy. Photo: Scott Rylander

 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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