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 The Theatreguide.London Review

The Same Deep Water As Me
Donmar Warehouse  Summer-Autumn  2013

Nick Payne's greatly anticipated follow-up to the multi award-winning Constellations is a very different animal from that moving exploration of love and passion.

Barry and Andrew are Luton-based, ambulance-chasing lawyers of the kind that are currently getting a bad press due to the ever-increasing cost of car insurance.

Barry, the senior partner played by Nigel Lindsay, is seemingly an honourable man, so how he ended up in this racket is a mystery that is never explained. His colleague's morals are more questionable.

The arrival of Andrew's old school friend, the deeply unpleasant Kevin Needleman, played with great relish by Mark Wootton, proves to be the catalyst for a court case and much more.

Kevin has suffered a car accident, or so he claims, and wishes to profit from the experience. Some might regard this as only right and in any case, Tesco or their insurers can afford a few grand.

In a scene that feels as if it was added on to make some point that is not really taken up later in the play, we suddenly discover that not only is the claim fabricated but Kevin, with Andrew's assistance, is setting up his own fake claims business similar to those recently publicised in the media.

An unanticipated problem arrives when the original claim is contested and the trio, along with Kevin's pregnant wife, end up having to perjure themselves in court.

After the interval, the lawyer's office has become a court presided over by Peter Forbes as dry Judge Jessup, in which a fair amount of comedy ensues, especially when Monica Dolan's suave defence counsel successively interrogates the equally unconvincing Needlemans.

All of this is pretty routine light comedy and the playwright only latterly tries to inject some deeper meaning, when the impact of materialist pressure on the working classes is very briefly put under the microscope.

Nick Payne, still not yet 30, is one of a crop of very talented young writers who promise a glittering future for the London stage. This is not his best work but he remains one to watch.

Without wishing to detract from the efforts of his colleagues in any way, the universally acknowledged star of the performance under review was Gerard Monaco in the role of sleazy Andrew.

A week before, Mr Monaco was happily resting between jobs but, due to a problem with Daniel Mays' knee, he has stepped into the breach at no notice and, with the assistance of director John Crowley plus the rest of the cast, does a fantastic job, albeit still "on the book".

Philip Fisher

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Review -  The Same Deep Water As Me - Donmar Warehouse 2013 

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