Settling down to watch The Two Faces of Agent Lacey, I was helpfully reminded by overhearing the gentlemen behind me as the lights went down that it was “not a secret agent, but a casting agent”. This was indeed the truth; The Two Faces of Agent Lacey follows the ups and downs in the world of a casting agent’s office, examining how agent and client interact in a world revolutionised by social media. With some alterations, the show definitely has the potential to be a cult-classic.
Whilst it sometimes feels cliché-ridden, Selina Giles’ script is outstanding at its subtle funniest. At times I found myself in hysterics whilst the rest of the audience seemed not to react at all, which makes me wonder whether or not my laughter was misplaced, but I found the subtle digs at the parade of theatrical luvvies that graced the stage to be easily the best parts of The Two Faces of Agent Lacey.
Though the general plot was interesting enough, I can’t help but wish that it had focused purely on the comings and goings at Agent Lacey’s office and taken an entirely comic path rather than the sub-par attempts at more serious drama. At times it just felt unnecessary and implausible, particularly a scene in which all of the agents’ clients end up working in the same show. The pacing also seemed slightly off with the middle of the play seeming to be quite long, and the revelations at the end being over with all too quickly.
That being said, I generally enjoyed the majority of the script – Giles’ cynical insight into the acting world (being an actress herself as well as a writer) shines through and I only wish there had been more time for wittier moments in the play.
Though the bulk of the cast were exemplary, I couldn’t help but feel the show was somewhat let down by the show’s titular character, Agent Lacey, played by Mark Griffin. He was functional but seemed to lack the ability to captivate and control the play in the way that the character demanded – he seemed less like a powerful theatrical agent and more like a bored manager trying to hire employees for a supermarket.
Across the other side of the spectrum was Christien Anholt as Billy – an actor struggling with some bad reviews – which could not be further from the truth of Anholt’s performance. Carrying the show’s humour with impeccable timing and delivery and still managing to hold his own in the slightly more serious scenes, he was far from the untalented actor he portrayed.
The Two Faces of Agent Lacey is well worth a watch if you want to see a play in the early stages of its development, but it doesn’t feel like a finished product yet. With some slicker dialogue and a further injection of cynical humour this has the potential to be thoroughly entertaining and I wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to see it again further down the line.
The Two Faces of Agent Lacey is playing the Arts theatre until 9 January 2016. For more information and tickets, see the Arts Theatre website.