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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Hard Feelings
Finborough Theatre Summer 2013

Written in bile and populated by characters full of bile, Doug Lucie's 1982 play is driven by anger anger of the playwright at his characters and their anger at each other and themselves. 

His is motivated by the conviction of what criminal wastes of space they all are, theirs by the vague and painful awareness of the same thing about themselves. 

It is not a light-hearted play (though it has comic moments) and no one in it is particularly attractive or sympathetic. But you can't accuse it of being dull or lifeless. 

We're in a house-share in Brixton inhabited by middle-class university graduates in their mid-twenties who haven't yet made the leap into adulthood, drifting along on daddy's money or temp jobs while playing at life all while their black neighbours are battling the police in the streets outside. 

They play at being rock stars or models or revolutionaries or capitalists; they play at being alcoholics and druggies; they play at being self-righteous or racist or neurotic. 

Not particularly liking themselves, they don't really like and in some cases actively dislike each other, and almost everyone gets a moment to tell someone else what they think of him or her at eloquent length. 

The owner of the house well, actually the daughter of the owner of the house takes a random dislike to one of her housemates and manages to convince herself that she's the wounded party, insisting on threat of eviction that everyone else join her in ostracising the other girl and forcing her out. 

The least functional in the group resort to handing out sexual favours as a way of maintaining some power, while the most functional (the one with an actual job) displays his insecurity by just trying to keep his head down and appease everyone else. 

There's a world just outside the door with people getting their heads bashed in, and these overgrown children are still playing at life that's what Doug Lucie is so angry about. And the only thing that blunts his anger thirty years later is our awareness that these wastrels will eventually get jobs in the City or the BBC, go through a couple of marriages and turn into their parents. 

James Hillier's production effectively captures the nastiness of these characters and also their essential triviality and irrelevance, so that you may find them more annoying than enraging. 

Solid performances all around are led by Isabella Laughland as the spoiled and vindictive owner, Zora Bishop as her innocent and somewhat dignified victim and Nick Blakeley as the guy just trying to get by without actually being noticed.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Hard Feelings - Finborough Theatre 2013   


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