Review of: Thieves Like Us by the Harlow Theatre Company
Lifestyle / Thu 26th Feb 2015 am28 11:54am
THIEVES Like Us is a full-length play about the love story of two villains, written by local playwright Carly Godfrey-Bridger and directed by Bernard Moule. Carly was inspired by characters like TV detective, Dexter and by her desire to write a strong female lead.
Before the show Bernard had kindly warned me that it was very much an adults-only production and so I enjoyed seeing him up on the stage as a slightly unsavory policeman giving a great performance alongside the very talented cast.
I wouldn’t normally start a review with the end but when the lights went up and the actors took a bow I felt as if I had been jolted out of the universe Carly and Bernard had created and I realised just how immersed I had been in their world.
Yes, there is swearing and yes, it covers dark subject matter, but this exploration of anti-heroes and how they experience love and friendship in a gangster lifestyle that is unacceptable to society was intelligent, thought provoking and felt very real throughout.
There are many riveting plot twists along the way, some of which would be comfortable in a horror film. The consistent laugh out loud comedy along with occasionally stark commentary on the human existence makes the time fly and I was hooked from start to finish.
I don’t want to give anything away as I really recommend you go and see Thieves Like Us and it would be like someone describing The Usual Suspects to you before you have seen it, so I will just say that the entire cast should be proud and mention a few of my highlights.
Hercules, played by Drayk Li Wayer, is a cult character who I suppose brings to mind a hazy recollection of Moff from Human Traffic but Drayk deserves more than comparisons as it was his own performance that shone off the stage. Drayk’s portrayal of the coked-up raver was utterly likeable and it had a joyful quality that meant you forgave him all his flaws. If you haven’t met a Hercules in real life, after a few minutes of watching him on stage you’ll feel like you’ve known him forever.
Lee, played by Jody Randall, and Hercules’ scenes together were my personal favourites and proved how clever this play is in that there is no filler: if Lee sets up a joke for Hercules, you can guarantee he will have his own killer punch line soon after. Their conversations had a touch of Tarantino to them and they were very watchable. These two need their own show.
Steve Hannam, as Brian, was everything you would want in a father figure disguised as an underworld villain and his relationship with Olivia, the protagonist, was touching and believable.
Carly has managed to make each of her characters funny line after line in their own style and the script never lags. The audience was laughing throughout and it never felt like one element had been sacrificed for the sake of the other. At no point did I doubt the script, acting or storyline; the characters behaved exactly as they should.
It felt like there wasn’t a single word wasted and the callback jokes to earlier references were rewarding. The dialogue was colourful yet natural with many quotable lines which were memorable but I will not include here so I don’t spoil any of the jokes, of which there are many.
After the show a few audience members commented on how it was just like watching a film and it should definitely be made into one as we all agreed we would want to watch it again. It is very layered and I imagine you would appreciate new things with each viewing.
This was a solid production and anyone who loves real storytelling and gritty yet charming characters with depth will enjoy this. Tickets are still available for the performances running from 26-28th February and I think those of you who go will be really pleased you did. I look forward to seeing more from the Harlow Theatre Company and what Carly does next.
Ah, the irony! A review of a play which was inspired by "a desire to write a strong female lead" yet Siobhan Wood only once manages to mention the plays protagonist by name - in reference to another character! Siobhan also seems to be unable (or simply not willing?) to mention the name of the actor who played the female lead. Perhaps Siobhan isn't ready for a strong female lead?
Perhaps my review intended to celebrate a female writer as there aren't enough in the film and TV industry and it is an issue close to my heart. I wouldn't change a word but it was an oversight on my part to not include an actor's real name in a review. I made it clear that in order to not spoil it for people I only touched briefly on the elements which personally, as is the point of an individual's review, stood out to me within the play as a whole and I said everyone involved gave a strong and credible performance. I did chuckle at the odd conclusion you appear to have drawn but your musings in this case are wrong. Thank you for your comment and I hope you enjoyed the great script, directing and actors (all of whom deserve individual praise, regardless of gender) as much as I did. You could write and publish your own review of this wonderful play and I would look forward to reading it. I also invite you to read some of my other reviews where you will find I am highly complimentary towards and indeed "ready for" strong female leads. After all, I am one myself. From Siobhan from Your Harlow
I would just like to say how lucky I got with the cast and crew for 'Thieves Like Us'. It's all well and good writing something, but quite something else to bring them to life. When I was writing the part of 'Olivia', I was concerned about how someone could pull off such a complex character - but of course I needn't have worried, Stevie Doherty-Hall nailed it. You can also imagine how fantastic it is for me that she is the Senior Tutor in Acting at Harlow College, and my script brought her back to stage after an 8 year gap! I watched her completely for the first time the other night, and she brought a big lump to my throat in one of her scenes. She has very challenging emotional and physical role, I can only watch her in total awe. The cast are fabulous, and Bernard has drawn so much out of them - more than I actually thought was there! Everyone has worked so hard on it and with such gusto, I am just blown away by them all. I did know a 'Hercules' and Drayk has done such a splendid job with him. I am very glad his flaws are forgiven - that was the intention. Again though, you can write it, but someone has to do it! I reiterate how lucky I got - massive well done to them all. Carly Godfrey-Bridger