"Hilariously cruel, a cerebral EastEnders"
by Hannah Doyle for remotegoat on 12/05/16

Spunky, fast-paced and acerbic, Paul Macauley’s ‘Necessity’ examines the gap between aspiration and reality, and how that gap is filled. Mish (Cerys Knighton) attempts to turn her creative pursuits into paid income following a redundancy, which jars with the daily grind that Patrick (Tim Cook) is forced to endure in a bid to turn their ambitions into something tangible. The difficulties faced by the couple are struggles millennials in the audience will undoubtedly have related to, with frustrations played out in some hilariously cruel lines that shed a brutally honest light on our lifestyles and relationships.

Yet the couple are in love, and their future stretches out ahead of them: a prospect that appears less and less appealing as we grow more familiar with Veronika (Vicky Winning) and Stephen (Andrew Cleaver), the middle-aged, middle-class neighbours. Winning gives a performance worthy of her name as a frightfully faux bourgeois witch who, not content with slowly eroding her husband’s sense of self, ultimately turns on the young couple, with a few well-directed and well-observed warnings thrown in along the way.

With a dark and tragic subplot hovering ominously in the background, this play feels like a cerebral EastEnders, quick and tightly written, with dialogue that manages to be both clever and real, pointed yet accessible. At times I wished we had been allowed more time to reflect. The gunshot lines were pinged back and forth, and considering the weight of the underlying theme and the predicament that T (Alex Reynolds) found herself in, some kind of non-wordy break in the action would have been welcome, a more physical or sensuous scene to break up the chatter. After the tirades and confrontations, the dénouement seemed disappointingly short and sharp, especially considering that although all of the actors performed impeccably and with great talent, Reynolds stole the show with her imposing presence and the raw emotion that shone through in her face and voice, despite the brevity of her scenes.

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