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Review: Strange the Road at Hope Theatre

10 February, 2017 — By Julie Tomlin

Andromeda Godfrey in Strange the Road

at Hope Theatre

THE intimacy of the Hope Theatre is a fitting setting for a play that draws you in to the suffocating, brutish world of small-time gangsters where violence is always looming.

Written and directed by Lil Warren, Strange the Road is described as a love story to Raymond Chandler, a tale of the tall storyteller Frenchie’s infatuation with the girlfriend of gang leader Malloy, a slobbering brute, heavy with the threat of sexual and physical violence.

Joey Ellis as Frenchie weaves his unreliable narrative into the action, delivering hard-boiled dialogue and some stand-out lines, while Verda (Andromeda Godfrey) is at the centre of things, resigned to her lot and playing to survive as she is preyed on, abused and leched at by Malloy and his men.

Played by Patrick Coupland, Malloy has to be entertained, his ego stroked and kept happy in order to prevent him hurting the people around him.

Verda does break away to deliver a caustic monologue in which she reveals a longing for beauty and hatred for Malloy and men like him. Frenchie works to try and save her, playing a dangerous game of his own, which hurtles him and the audience into the unknown.

Some of the strongest scenes involve dance and movement. When Frenchie gets the beating you always sensed he would, the violence unfolds in a red-lit physical sequence during which up-tempo jazz drowns out his screams.

While Hughie (Rikki Chamberlain), Randall (Darren Paul McStay), Frenchie and Malloy make good play of wise-cracking dialogue, some of the weakest scenes are those in which the pace slows down – the characters seemed ill-suited to more nuanced conversations and at times it becomes disjointed.

Until February 18
020 7478 0160


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