Friday, 30 August 2019

REVIEW: World’s End at the King’s Head Theatre

November 1998. Nearly twenty-one years ago. Often what I like to think of as the ‘good old days’ playing the Nintendo, and this beautiful show ‘World’s End’ serves as a trip down memory lane set in Chelsea’s ‘World’s End’ estate. James Corley really hits the ground running with his debut play which focuses on gaming nostalgia, sexuality, single parent single child relationships and also brushing up on the Kosovo war too.

The play sees forty-nine-year-old Viv (Patricia Potter) and her nineteen-year-old son Ben (Tom Milligan) move in to a one bedroomed flat on the World’s End estate in Chelsea, and are helped out by neighbours Ylli (Nikolaos Brahimllari) and his son Besnik (Mirlind Bega). Ben and Besnik’s friendship grows stronger with each game of ‘The Legend of Zelda – the Ocarina of Time’, whilst the two families deal with single parenthood and what exactly is freedom.

James Corley’s writing is strong, with witty dialogue that flows beautifully (a particular highlight moment for me was between Besnik and Ben with: ‘”We can’t [have sex] in Hyrule Town?” “We can fish”’). The story covers a lot of important issues that keep coming up at the moment such as immigration/ asylum. With the current state of parliamentary affairs Corley could not have written this show at a better time! My only fault with the writing (and this is unfortunate for Corley) is that in being a massive (almost obsessive) fan of Legend of Zelda – the Ocarina of Time, some of the dialogue describing the game did not match up to reality (the spirit stone of the forest is already in possession by the time you’re in Hyrule Field, and some of the sound design scores (albeit very strong) did not match up to where in the game they were describing). This I realise is very picky, but if you do reference so openly a fan favourite computer game, those little touches would give the big geeks like me a massive nostalgia boost and a squeal in the seat.

Harry Mackrill’s direction is for the most part strong, utilizing the space
brilliantly (with an amazing set by Rachel Stone). You could see there had been a lot of care and attention to detail in the script, although a couple of times with the two families in their separate flats on stage could get confusing as it wasn’t always clear enough – especially the first time. Jai Morjaria’s lighting design was solid, as was Harry Linden Johnson’s sound design (although sometimes it felt a bit too loud).

When it comes to performances though, Patricia Potter shines as a middle class mother. Her facial expressions were bang on, but also she truly captured my heart in a raw emotional section at the end of the play too, proving both a comedic genius and a beautifully vulnerable actress. Hers and Tom Milligan’s relationship felt genuine to the audience, and Milligan’s stutter that he brought to Ben was naturalistic. Mirlind Bega’s and Nikolaos Brahimllari’s relationship as Besnik and Ylli didn’t always feel as genuine, although both brought great tenderness to their performances.

Overall, this show is a massive nostalgic treat. Even though you can see where the show is going and there aren’t many surprises (I could tell from halfway through the play the rough ending), it is a very enjoyable and thought-provoking performance, and sets Corley in good stead as a writer. I can’t wait to see what he has to offer next!

Review by Adam Yorke

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: F13 | Price of Ticket: £23.50

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