Joan Potter & Natasha Patel. Image: Contributed
Venue: The Hope Theatre
Performance Date: 13 June 2019
Star Rating: ★★★★
In the small and intimate space of the Hope Theatre in Highbury and Islington something quite extraordinary is taking place. In an age where social media is king and popularity is measured by the amount likes of an Instagram post, the lines between talent and fame have become blurred and indistinguishable. With many celebrities living their lives through social media any mistakes or misjudgements instantly go viral with everyone having an opinion. There is no shortage of controversial celebrities, how many times has Justin Bieber put his foot in it or done something completely outrageous that no one can quite believe, yet his popularity endures and he is forgiven with little to no recompense for his actions. Cuttings is an incredibly clever, satirical and tongue-in-cheek look at what it means to be ‘sorry’ and how fame and fortune can facilitate the twisting of facts, the convenient reapportion of blame and eventual absolution.
Arthur Moses has just been awarded the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play. To say the award was unexpected is an understatement. Three sheets to the wind, he stands on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall and delivers an outrageously expletive laden speech, dropping the c bomb left right and centre. The speech causes uproar, the theatre industry is disgusted, the old guard of the BBC morally appalled and the snowflake listeners of BBC Radio 4 tripping over themselves to complain to Ofcom. Arthur’s PR team go in to meltdown, the phone ringing off the hook, Twitter blowing up – how on earth will they manufacture a statement to neutralise the crisis and keep Arthur’s credibility and popularity intact?
Ollie George Clark’s script, is razor sharp, fiercely contemporary and at times laugh out loud hilarious. Delivered in one act over 75 minutes, the time flies by. The intimate space and small audience allow for complete immersion in the action, the staging is a simple office scene which is used incredibly effectively. Rob Ellis’s direction and sound design works beautifully in the space, making you feel like you are a literal fly on the wall.
There are no lulls, no fillers, just good quality comedy content. That said, a script is only as good at as the actors that deliver it, and the small cast of three deliver in abundance. The three actors play off each other beautifully, their interactions swap and change, allowing the audience to see different sides of them.
Natasha Patel is assured and confident as the conflicted Ruchi. She perfectly articulates her quandary between doing the right thing and her loyalty to Arthur for whom she feels a deep affinity. Maisie Preston is delightful as office junior Danica. Incredibly green and innocent, she is never quite able to finish one of her ridiculous travelling stories despite her constant efforts to tenuously link them to the situation at hand. As the play develops she is dealt a short, sharp lesson in how to manage a live PR crisis, the developing outcomes of which come as somewhat of a shock to her.
Joan Potter shines as Gracelyn, the owner of Arthur’s PR Agency. She is a wonderful comedic character embodied brilliantly by Potter. With shades of the iconic Edwina from Absolutely Fabulous, she wafts around the office, unlit cigarette in hand – the cogs visibly turning in her head as to how she can salvage the situation. Her distain for the BBC is hilarious and only serves to further motivate her to diffuse the situation whilst protecting her own interests.
This play is incredibly clever and deserves a much wider audience. Clark has quite the talent and if I was the betting type, a bet on him to win a future Olivier of his own wouldn’t be amiss. If that should ever come to pass, one would hope he wouldn’t channel Arthur Moses in his acceptance speech! Cuttings is a fine example of the gems that are on offer away from the bright lights of the West End.
It plays at The Hope Theatre until 22 June – if you are in the area go and see it, you won’t be disappointed.