Thursday, 7 March 2019

REVIEW: We're Staying Right Here at the Park Theatre


Suicide by men under 50 as a result of mental health issues is becoming a new cause celebre but rarely does a play pack such a powerful emotional punch as this debut play by Henry Devas. We're staying right here takes us into the boarded up flat and confused mind of a depressed comedian who has never recovered from the death of his father from cancer and the guilt he feels over his newly born daughter Ellie.

Jez Pike directs and has audience lurching from moments of silly comedy to high drama and tension in a roller coaster of emotions hurtling towards an uncertain ending. 

Danny Kirrane plays Matt, who we first meet on stage in a cape in his stand up routine before he is overwhelmed by an explosion of despair that forces him to barricade himself into his own flat in a battle for his future.

As he struggles to contain his feeling he is bullied, cajoled, and banters with his alter egos Benzies (Daniel Portman) and Tristabel (Tom Canton). Tristabel acts like a public school bully with his fags, a psychiatrist analysing his client and life coach. His calm upright demeanour is just as threatening as Benzies violent aggressive mood swings. Are they going to help Matt decide on his future ? Can he survive the stir crazy feeling of his tiny flat? 

When Christopher and later Chris (both played by Liam Smith) like a character in a Paul Newman movie arrives the mood changes as he seeks to guide Matt to a final decision.

Harry Devas writing is excellent creating five very different characters with believable interactions that heighten tension and then breaks it with clever and corny one liners like , "my mother is so thick she stares as a cartoon of orange juice because it says concentrate " or why does the football look like it is getting bigger, then it hit me". But also reveals the turmoil, uncertainty and terror of an individual must feel when contemplating suicide. 

The action is set in a tight compact space which occasionally hindered sight lines
by the venue layout but also adds to the dramatic tension. The lighting design by George Bach is very effective especially in the transitions from one reality to another and in creating a sense of the world outside and above the flat despite the obvious limitations of the space.

This is an excellent dramatic piece, well acted and directed which provides a real insight into the mind of a depressed man with suicidal thoughts and calls for more awareness of this silent epidemic of male suicide.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: unreserved stalls | Price of ticket: £18
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