Review: Tiny Dynamite, Old Red Lion

“I know what fucking surf and turf is”

It is always fascinating to revisit the early work of writers who have gone on to bigger things and Tiny Dynamite offers that chance with Abi Morgan, screenwriter of such hits as Shame, The Iron Lady and Suffragette. This play, revived by David Loumgair for Time Productions, is somewhat of a challenge in the forthrightly enigmatic way in which it has been written and a set of creative decisions that show a pleasing affinity for taking risk.

As ever, not all of though decisions pay off. But when they do, Tiny Dynamite is full of small surprises. Anna Reid’s design introduces water onto the small stage of the Old Red Lion to powerful effect, especially when combined with the electric effect of Zoe Spurr’s lighting. And the gender-swapping of one of the three characters demonstrates the kind of active commitment to redressing gender inequality that remains all too rare in the theatre industry.

The structure of the play though – with its short, opaque scenes tracing a tale of friendship, unhappy pasts and something perhaps a little spooky – feels like something Loumgair hasn’t quite got a firm-enough handle on. The introduction of movement (by Natasha Harrison) doesn’t quite pay off in the reduced amount of space available. And there’s a fatal lack of pace as these sections, plus fiddly scene changes sap much-needed life from the work.

And it is fine work from the three actors. Eva-Jane Willis stands out as the stoically suffering Luce, close friend to Niall Bishop’s angsty Anthony who was struck by lightning aged six and has suffered ever since. They take an annual summer holiday together and whilst both profess to be fine, this particular trip is more charged than usual. If I could have done with a tad more bang overall, Tiny Dynamite still has much to commend it as an intriguing look at Morgan’s emergent writing style. 

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Richard Davenport
Booking until 3rd February

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