An Act of Kindness by new London theatre company Rascal Theatre takes place at a London bus stop. This is where Leila and Martin meet. Leila, a waitress, takes the bus to work here every day. Martin is only here every few weeks, temporarily, visiting his mother in hospital. Over the course of several months, the two get to know each other and become friends. The play shows us the course of this friendship through its highs and lows while attempting to explore the specific pressures put on men and women by society.

This play wants to delve into some important issues. And at times, it is touching and funny. Leila dreams of visiting Comic Con in San Diego and finding a job she doesn’t hate. She feels lost and can’t understand why it’s not okay to be lost in your early twenties. Martin, meanwhile, likes his job as a credit analyst. His seemingly perfect (for a recent university graduate) life with a stable job, a girlfriend and all, is shaken up by his mother’s illness. He struggles with feeling like he is forbidden to show his emotions. We listen to these two unlikely friends converse over the course of an hour until the play comes to its rather tidy end.

A few aspects of this production let it down. Most of the issues are with believability. Simple changes could have been made to make it seem more realistic. When the phones ring, one could really call the phone in the actor’s hand rather than playing an obviously fake sound effect. Also, Helena Westerman’s acting as Leila isn’t entirely convincing – though, as she wrote the play, it is hard to determine whether that is the fault of the writing or the performance. Her manic pixie dreamgirl-ish character is just a little too quirky to feel real. True, the character of Martin contains many stereotypes too, but Robert Hayes seems to carry it off with more nuance. Strangely, this play seems to be in aid of the men’s mental health charity CALM, not a women’s charity as well, making me wonder if I had missed something in this two-hander to indicate that it was more about Martin’s mental health than Leila’s.

All in all, An Act of Kindness is a sweet and enjoyable play. The direction is obviously considered, the writing is clever and the narrative is well-structured. However, it just doesn’t have as much impact as one might hope.

An Act of Kindness is playing C Cubed until August 28th. For more information and tickets, see