The crumple zone, for those who may not know, is the part of a car designed to take the full force of the impact if and when a collision occurs. It’s also the title of Lambco productions’ new play. Centring on four twenty-something’s in New York; Alex (Nick Brittain), his roommate Terry (Lucas Livesy), his girlfriend (Natasha Edwards) and his lover Buck (Robbie Capaldi). Theirs is a story of love, betrayal, lust and friendship, all played out between four walls over a chaotic Christmas period.
The Crumple Zone is, inexplicably, set in Staten Island, New York. The only member of the cast who is actually American is Edwards, and so this obviously means dodgy American accents from the remaining three. It’s quite hard to concentrate on the actual story when I can’t help but notice them repeatedly butchering a New York dialect. There’s no reason that I can see why the show couldn’t be set in the UK, which would give it more authenticity, be less distracting and remove any references or jokes that go amiss because they rely on knowledge of America/New York e.g. “lifeless as a Macy’s mannequin”.
Livesy is the driving force of the play, which is sad because he, in his own words, is a “supporting character in my own life!” The misery seems to revolve around him, despite being nothing to do with him, and he is a shoulder to cry on for everyone. His accent is the most realistic (aside from Edwards’, obviously), and he delivers almost all the jokes. If it were not for him, the show would be entirely depressing. Britain is conflicted and as sensitive as Alex, but often slips into overacting – quite melodramatic and exaggerated. This, along with the one liners and the accent, makes the whole affair seem corny at times, like High School Musical with sex and booze. Edwards as Sam seems only fairly concerned that her boyfriend of four years is having an affair with a man, and Capaldi as Buck is desperate with longing for Alex.
The Crumple Zone, at 75 mins long, could do with losing 15 minutes of that. While funny and entertaining, it starts to become repetitive and follows the same pattern; something happens, tensions build, there’s an explosive confrontation, and Livesy dissolves it with humour. Aside from this, some of the writing is brilliant. The subtle side-lining of Terry is quietly heartbreaking, and I’m not sure if it is the apartment that is the crumple zone, or Terry himself. The comedic introduction of Roger (Fanox Xenofos) is a welcome break from the ceaseless cheating and drinking. With a little refining, and perhaps relocation, The Crumple Zone would be a great alternative Christmas show.
The Crumple Zone is playing at The King’s Head Theatre until December 9. For more information and tickets, click here