Reverend Production’s Nerve, playing in a double bill with Jekyll and Hyde at The Greenwich Theatre, is a show that seems to lose its way at times, yet intermittently good writing and some slick lighting choreography keeps metaphorical heads above metaphorical waters, but only just.
Nerve’s biggest problem is that it is difficult to say with any certainty what it is about. Not in the sense of the plot, this – despite the whiff of trite soap opera fare – was interesting enough, but rather in the sense of what the message was. Nerve touches briefly on abusive relationships, the drama around pregnancy, abortion, murder, millennial ennui in this cruel world, and friendship. And that is all packed into fifty-five minutes. Writer and actor Charlie Howitt produces some fairly interesting and well-written scenes, but the play fails to actually examine any one topic in great depth. This is not necessarily a bad thing, there are several great plays in the past that have not tried to tackle some great truth or put the world to rights. However, these great plays all allow the viewer the time to get to know and empathise with its characters, and sadly I can’t honestly say that I cared much about what happened to any of the four characters in this production.
That being said, the acting on display by Howitt, Jack Govan, Kate Novak and Lee Comley is respectably decent. Aside from Govan’s occasional garbled line the quartet acquit themselves well and their performances are believable. The lighting choreography, which is the vehicle for numerous scene changes throughout the piece, is fairly impressive in its ability to create tension and drama. The set, while minimalist, is another good point. A lamp hanging down from the rafters; a coffee table and a clothes horse scattered on the stage create the bare bones of a lounge that suits the plot very well.
Nerve will not change your life. Nor will it change your opinion on much. However, there’s definitely some good in this performance, and should you be nearby and have a guilty pleasure for The Cobbles or Albert Square I’d say it is worth the effort.
Nerve played at the the Greenwich Theatre until 11 October. It continues to tour.