A compelling evening of comedic awkwardness!

Today the Havering Daily reviews the fantastic play ‘Beginning’ by David Eldridge at The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.
It is late at night at Laura’s house party, all the guests bar one, Danny, have gone. The flat is in a mess, Laura is tipsy and Danny is diffident. 

So starts a wonderful evenings’ entertainment.  This beautifully crafted play by Romford born David Eldridge manages to bring humour and pathos into the lives of two single people hovering around the 40 mark. Laura, a Managing Director, self assured  with no money worries and Danny, 42 single and living with his mum and nan in Upminster Bridge. Danny was invited to the party as a friend of a friend and Laura tells him that she fancies him and would like him to stay the night. Danny in his awkward diffidence tells Laura that “I have no radar” and that said,  although he has looked at her during the evening  and quite fancies her he goes no further .Laura, merrily sipping wine from a glass attempts to lure Danny to her side for a kiss; Danny responds by asking where the bin bags are and starts to tidy up the mess of the party, evading Laura and her advances.

 Slowly emotional layers are peeled off. Danny revealing that he was married, has a seven year old daughter who has not seen for four years, and works in Marketing. Laura says she is from an Irish background, has always lived in north London, was in a steady relationship for over ten years and became pregnant when very young.

The evening moves on with the couple finding that they have a common ground in that they like Scotch eggs! There are periods of silences where Laura and Danny move around with their own thoughts, but these silences are so compelling they enhance the play and the atmosphere. Laura asks Danny if he would like a fish finger sandwich which acts as an ice breaker; Danny puts some music on and starts his most bizarre of dance moves, Laura takes an opportunity to actually hold him albeit briefly.
Gently the couple breakdown their barriers and work towards getting together. However I will leave there for you must find out for yourselves the outcome.

David Eldridge is one of the finest young playwrights in the country and his ability to discover emotions and characterisation without losing directness  are peerless. This play was warmly received at the performance I went to – David always says that Havering audiences feel a sense of belonging for his plays and they certainly did this night.
Amanda Ryan as Laura and Simon Darwen as Danny are quite brilliant in their portrayals; their timing and movement make the whole show, a straight through 100 minutes, go paradoxically slow and fast but never lose the atmosphere of comedy and poignancy.

Joe Liechtenstein directed the show and Fly Davis’ set catches the imagination, for a show that was originally produced at The National Theatre and will now go on tour. Naomi Said deserves praise for her movement direction of the cringeworthy dancing!

A great evening’s entertainment and a Five Star award.

Simon Darwin as Danny and Amanda Ryan as Laura. Photo credit to Manuel Harlan

This play will be at the Theatre Royal in Bath from the 24th of September until 2nd of October. please see the link below for further information.

https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/event/beginning/

The Havering Daily