“What exactly do we get to choose, with this better…way?”
I do like a bit of Kirsty Bushell and have decided she is one of the many actresses that I will now go to see in everything she does. Which meant a trip to the Hampstead Downstairs for Colette Kane’s play I Know How I Feel About Eve, an unusual twist on a domestic tragedy which plays out rather interestingly across its short running time. Jo and Alex are an archetypal young professional couple but something has gone wrong, something that can’t be fixed until Jo finds Gloria and the rather exceptional service that her organisation provides.
It’s a vague description and deliberately so, I wouldn’t want to reveal much more as the surprises of the play depend on it but it’s safe to say that though the plot stretches credulity in its somewhat surreal reaches, it forms an effective way in which to explore the trials and machinations of the issue that is plaguing Jo and Alex. And it is sensitively done, though a little simplistically heavy-handed at times as it strives to reach an overly neat conclusion when it could either have kept a stronger note of ambiguity or taken a little longer to get there.
Lisa Spirling’s production is light on its feet – excellently cast with Bushell all brittle exterior as the hula-hopping barrister Jo and Christopher Harper softer as the easily distracted writer Alex – though the strains on their relationship are detailed a little too vociferously, the vicious banter between them a little too much though as Michele Austin’s Gloria arrives to put options on the table, the sniping decreases to a more bearable level as the main argument comes into play.
As ever, the downstairs programme more than earns its money back (tickets are just £12) to provide some interesting drama and noteworthy casting, though I still remain sceptical of the repeated insistence on this being a try-out area rather than a ‘proper’ venue with official reviews garnering more of the attention that these plays deserve.