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Friday, 22 April 2011
Precious Little Talent at Trafalgar Studios 2
A proud father, a frustrated daughter, an optimistic boy... these are the characters in Ella Hickson's sharp new play, ‘Precious Little Talent’. After the success of her debut, ‘Eight,’ Hickson brings us another impressive drama, written on the eve of her graduation.
Joey arrives in hectic New York to spend the Christmas season with her estranged father, who lives alone in a cramped flat.
George is beginning to suffer from dementia, he refuses to explain his condition to his 23 year old daughter, who has turned up unexpected, and uninvited.
Sam is pleased when he meets a pretty girl called Joey in Manhattan, they run round the city, share an impulsive kiss before she disappears. He works as George's carer, patiently looking after him and keeping him company.
In George’s home Joey and Sam meet again, there is an attraction, but also an obvious clash between Sam’s cheerful and positive outlook and Joey’s harsh cynicism. These opposing world-views hint at the politics of the time, Obama has recently won the presidency inspiring Americans with hope, while Joey in the UK has been stuck with a stale Labour government, and even after working hard through school and university cannot find work.
The Trafalgar Studios 2 is a tiny theatre that only seats one hundred, providing a second more intimate stage below the main auditorium. It is the perfect choice for this play, a drama that feeds off the claustrophobia. Lucy Osborne’s design utilises the small stage well, cutting diagonally through the audience. There are dark scene changes and flashing lights that effectively capture the pace and excitement of NYC.
The petite cast of three exceed expectations under the inventive direction of James Dacre. Anthony Welsh is a bright young actor, with a promising career ahead, he brings a touching humility and kindness to the role of Sam. Welsh is courageous and compassionate and completely magnetic to watch on stage. Joey is played by Sugar Rush and Lark Rise to Candleford star, Olivia Hallinan. With a lot of experience behind her she has no problems impressing in this powerful female role. She triumphs in her final reflective monologue. Ian Gelder is hard to fault too, a suffering man who shows glimmers of a bright personality through his grumpy exterior.
I was surprised at the instinctive nature of Hickson's writing, which captivates the audience. It is impossible not to sit up straight and concentrate, and at only eighty minutes, I was left wanting more.
Precious Little Talent continues until 30 April, book here.