Review: Deposit, Hampstead Downstairs

“Friends are uniting, to help each other’s dreams come true”

Keeping it brief for Matt Hartley’s Deposit as it closes this week. The Hampstead Theatre Downstairs was conceived as “an experimental” space where plays could be put on free from critical scrutiny and whilst that hasn’t necessarily been the way things have turned out (the programming has positioned it more as a companion to the Royal Court Upstairs rather than anywhere more adventurous), it has been a reliable destination for some pretty good theatre.

And in a rare case of the incubator effect coming into fruition, two plays which have previously played here have been brought back and deemed ready for the press (which also means their £5 preview tickets disappearing). First up is Deposit, a contemporary fable directed by Lisa Spirling about the challenges of trying to buy property in London where two couples test their friendship to the limit by renting a one-bedroom flat and sharing it to help them save that all-important lump sum.

As canny a plan as it is, splitting rent and bills, its realities soon make themselves painfully apparent. They’re basically all 30-somethings who are too old to be doing this, especially Mel and Sam who are on the sofabed, but the tensions that emerge pull in all directions – on the relationships, on the friendships, on the dream of owning property. 

The quartet of Karl Davies and Natalie Dew, Ben Addis and Nicola Kavanagh, play it interestingly on the shiny pennies of Polly Sullivan’s design and if the writing doesn’t quite dig deep enough into the larger issues of society’s relationship to the property market or the structural issues around it, the personal side presented here is gripping enough.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Robert Day

Booking until 10th June

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