FIRST NIGHT REVIEW: Amongst Friends

Two couples, former neighbours who had lost touch, catch up over dinner. What starts out as a group of spouses bantering about their partners shortcomings and disagreeing over current affairs quickly t

REVIEW: Amongst Friends

Hampstead Theatre

Four stars

Two couples, former neighbours who had lost touch, catch up over dinner. What starts out as a group of spouses bantering about their partners' shortcomings and disagreeing over current affairs quickly turns into something more sinister when uninvited guest Shelley (Vicki Peppredine) appears. She tricks her way into the gated-community home of hosts Lara (Helen Baxendale) a journalist and her husband Richard (Aden Gillett) a politician. And she's determined to make the realities of her council estate world felt by her neighbours in the smug luxury of their loft apartment. Revelations of affairs, lies, extortion and mental breakdowns follow as the veneer of success and pretence is stripped from the lives of those present.


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The acting is sublime throughout with Emma Cunniffe as nurse Caitlin and James Dreyfus as social worker Joe perfectly completing the chemistry between the two couples. Vicki Pepperdine is slightly less convincing, not aided by the fact her clothes are far more Britney than Primark.

But as the evening unravels so to a certain extent does April De Angelis' new play. It starts off at a pace with cuttingly clever quips that could rival Coward, but what promises to be a theatrical treat soon drops a gear.

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The plot becomes inconsistent with crook Shelley seemingly happy to pass up a golden opportunity to extort more cash from come-back politician Richard.

The play also loses its fizz when the feisty women in Richard's life are easily persuaded to roll over and support his quest for power despite the realisation that the man they thought loved them doesn't - and is shallow, a cheat and not very bright to boot.

Nevertheless the play, commissioned by the Hampstead Theatre, is enjoyable to watch and well worth seeing.

Until June 13.

Jo Cooke

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