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If. Destroyed. Still. True. (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: If. Destroyed. Still. True.

Society: West End & Fringe

Venue: Hope Theatre (Hope & Anchor Pub) 207 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1RL

Credits: By JACK CONDON. Directed by SARAH STACEY

If. Destroyed. Still. True.

3 stars

Two friends attend the same school in a deprived Essex seaside town. One leaves for university, gradually finds a different sort of life and settles down with a young woman whose background is more privileged. The other stays and is unhappily sucked ever further into emotional and economic poverty. Tensions build over the eight year  narrative span and there’s a great deal of anger, angst and guilt. It’s hardly an original story although many people will identify with it.

This seventy-minute piece is Jack Condon’s first play (he also plays the confused, disappointed, furious John) for Jawbones, a new company he has set up with Sarah Stacey, who directs. Although it’s a generally pleasing debut some of the writing is laboured especially in the first half hour which includes far too much clunky expositionary dialogue. The “issues” stick out clumsily. It does, however improve as it proceeds.

But the acting is excellent.  Condon stomps about being outrageous and often furious as well as deeply flawed and hurt. As James, Theo Ancient finds calm, reasonableness in his character and we identify with him because John really is difficult to deal with. Yet there’s also a troubled complexity especially in the memorably powerful  final scene when Whitney Kehinde, now his pregnant wife, tries to confront him about his unhappiness  so that they can move on together. She is calm, determined and worried, all of which Kehinde conveys beautifully and the way the two actors bounce of each other at this point packs a real punch.

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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