The King’s Head Theatre is one of the best off west end venues to pick up on new writing work and that gives small producers a chance to develop their credentials. Eigengrau written by Penelope Skinner was first performed in 2010 and hasn’t seen many revivals since. This is a shame for such as funny and current play.
The play touches on defining ones identity and when you’re in your mid 20’s how easily that is swayed. It starts with Tim who is an unemployed and tubby care assistant. He has recently lost his grandmother whom he loved dearly. Tim is now living with his old friend and flatmate, Mark who is a big shot in marketing and great with women. Mark meets Rose, a “believer” in signs and numerology, and soon discovers he’s in way over his head. Rose has recently moved in with Cassie who found her on gumtree. Cassie is a feminist lobbyist and realist. When these characters get tangled up with each other there’s no option but for hearts to break and realities to shatter in this humorous play.
Director, Hannah Joss points out how relevant Eigengrau is today as it was 6 years ago when it was first previewed in London. Joss uses a random voice over as interjections between scenes which depict the chaos of London well.
Eigengrau is produced by Annie Jackson who also plays Cassie. Her character although incredibly intelligent can’t help but fall for the clichéd wooing lines of Mark, and she hates herself for it. Jackson plays Cassie grounded and subtly. This is a good contrast to the other more chaotic characters. Lotti Maddox plays Rose who is disbelievingly self-involved. She makes everything about her and it is cringe worthy how naïve she is. Maddox plays this desperately sad character with enjoyment and commitment. Mark played by James Sheldon makes his character see through and slimy. The character is incredibly arrogant and Sheldon gives him a sense of depth and even dignity. Tim is played by Nicholas Stafford. Tim is such a caring character he off sets the others and Stafford makes you warm to him easily.
Throughout the play at moments you feel utterly embarrassed for each character as they fall for horrendously foolish dating traps and have completely unrealistic wants. It’s sometimes so obvious you lose patience with them. As funny as the writing is, it is essential that the characters half thoughts and sentences bounce off each other and with this mix of characters it does.
With its dramatic ending and its colliding story lines this version of Eigengrau is a humorous play that deserves its revival.
Eigengrau is playing The Kings Head Theatre Pub until 11 July. For more information and tickets, see King’s Head Theatre website.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli