A Model Life is a story which plays over the course of a day in Brian’s model shop, as it is being packed up and closed down. A new landlord has meant new soaring rent fees which Brian’s modest model-selling turnover cannot handle. In his attempt to quietly take records of his final stock with the help of his young employee, Toby, Brian is confronted by the histrionics of the next-door Cancer Research shop worker, Marie, and some last minute shoppers, whilst his friend Jane regularly checks in with his stop-start progress.
Thomas Jones plays Brian convincingly and with charm, and expresses a passion for his craft. Model train enthusiast, Ben, is played with the right level of shadiness by Richard Houghton Evans, who also pops up in two other roles. Prospective university student Toby has an emotionally tough day as he’s being badgered by his friend Martin to come out and dress up as a Smurf for a night out, whilst also keeping his morals and respect for Brian in tact. Toby is played well, with the right level of victimhood, by Ashley Cavender-Jones. Matt McClure showcases good comic timing as well as charm as he alternates between Martin and the money-hungry landlord. Greta Wray-Clarke plays the roles of Jane and the injured cyclist, Charlotte, with ease and great charisma. Ffion Jones, who is due to appear in the SkyOne series Stella at the end of the year, revels in the shoes of batty Marie, who makes eating cheddar hilarious.
Daniella Callow’s set was simple, something you might find in an IKEA for theatres, but completely imaginative. I felt Nikolai Ribnikov’s direction could have used the blankess of Callow’s set a bit more, it felt as if there was a possibility of completely flat-packing the set as the day went on which wasn’t realised, but ultimately Ribnikov’s direction was effective.
Robnikov and Jones’s (Brian) debut play for Velvet Trumpet had the underlying theme of industry vs. passion running through it, and emphasised the greed of modern business despite personal passions and hobbies. Coincidentally this was echoed as I left the Stepney theatre as I was immediately confronted by three boarded-up shops across the street that looked like they once had hearts not spread-sheets running them.
A Model Life by Velvet Trumpet is safe but has the potential to be raucous; as with any new-writing, confidence will grow over time as everyone settles down and picks out where the laughs might be but at the moment, this potentially brilliant debut is finding its feet before it transfers to the Network Theatre on 18 July.
A Model Life transfers to the Network Theatre, Waterloo for a week run, 18-22 July. Tickets: £10/£12 via: www.ticketsource.co.uk/velvettrumpet.