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Prince/David (Susan Elkin reviews)


Written and directed by Yasir Senna

Razor Sharp Productions

Golden Goose Theatre


Star rating: 4


I agreed to see/review this show  because I’m a good egg who strives to support theatre in all its forms, and because I quite like the Golden Goose. I had no idea what to expect. What I got was, therefore, a delightful surprise.

Prince/David (the title is unfortunate and doesn’t do it justice) is an excellent crime drama which packs a strong message about police inadequacy, both historically and now, especially when dealing with rape, assault and murder of women. Complacency and victim shaming have too often got in the way of justice. Moreover, I read a lot of crime fiction, which is currently enjoying a huge boom, as part of my eclectic reading diet. Thus there is usually a crime story ticking away in one corner of my brain quite separate from the section which is digesting the latest show I’ve seen. Prince/David felt like a happy merger between two bits of my world.

David Nicholls, who also goes by other names, is a revoltingly smooth con man who likes to rape and murder women. At the performance I saw he was played by playwright and director, Yasir Senna, filling in for indisposed Simon Ryerson. And he did it beautifully. In the opening scene we see him in a restaurant, slimily plausible, convincing a gullible young department store assistant (Helena Heaven – good) that he can get her a modelling contract in return for a few “favours.” The contract is in his car which rings alarm bells for everyone in the audience but not for the hapless Amber Da Costa.

The play shifts across 25 years from 1999 when Amber disappears to 2024 – relevant projected images give us the dates clearly. In 2024, a very young PC Stecklen (Helen Matthews) tries to persuade her senior officer that there is evidence he should look at but is dismissed with the chilling, shocking “Get us a cup of tea, love”. Over 20 years later, now a Detective Sergeant, she gets the opportunity to revisit the case with a team. Matthews strides about and finds  passion and anger in this clear thinking woman. It’s an outstanding performance. And does she succeed? No spoilers.

There’s good work from everyone in this cast of nine among which  Natasha Vassell is strong first as a timid young constable and later as an authoritative, well dressed Commissioner. And I liked Christopher Poke’s work as two different older male officers trying to confound Stecklen’s single minded focus at different stages in the narrative.

If you like Unforgotten, you’ll enjoy this although, totally drawn in by the plot,  I was slightly frustrated by the hint at Stecklen’s personal past, the details of which are never developed. It’s a small gripe, though, about a fast paced, gripping 135 minutes of theatre.





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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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