Review: Harrogate, Royal Court

“We grow out of the things we love”

Only a short run upstairs at the Royal Court for this Al Smith play, which premiered at HighTide last year and heads out on a whistlestop UK tour in November. Which is a bit of a shame as Richard Twyman’s production of Harrogate proves to be rather unsettlingly brilliant, anchored by two expertly slippery performance from Sarah Ridgeway and Nigel Lindsay, the latter a geniously counter-intuitive move considering how much I like him.

For as we meet the father and daughter combo enigmatically named Him and Her, it becomes increasingly clear that all is not what it seems. She’s 15 so he’s been letting her have a ‘drink’ drink but he’s also been stalking her and her boyfriend. And she needs prompting on some of the details of her life, like her GCSE subjects… With the ground ever unsteady, this relationship between man and woman, or should that be girl, is replayed twice more to really twist things up.

To say much more would be intensely spoileriffic, but suffice to say that the construction of Smith’s play and in particular its dialogue is expertly done. The most innocuous of statements get twisted into double-speak and double entendre as the nature of this relationship is deconstructed further and further, Lindsay giving us a queasily superb portrayal of this deterioration and Ridgeway unnervingly good as three characters who are as much the same as different. Hard to watch but worth it.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 29th October, then touring
Tue 1 Nov – 7:30pm Farnham Maltings
Wed 2 Nov – 7:30pm artsdepot, London
Thu 3 Nov – 8:00pm Harlow Playhouse
Fri 4 Nov – 8:00pm The North Wall, Oxford
Sun 6 Nov –8:00pm The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury
Thu 10 Nov – 7:30pm The Garage, Norwich
Fri 11 Nov – 7:30pm Didcot Cornerstone
Mon 14 Nov – 7:30pm Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds
Wed 16 Nov – 7:30pm Cambridge Junction

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