The Lodger

3 out of 5 stars

Everyone loves the extra hour in bed when the clocks go back – everyone except the subject of Paul Birtill's black comedy. After all, who needs that lie-in when you get one every day anyway? Such is the view taken by 40-year-old poet Steven Penfold (Cameron Harris), who isolates himself in his council flat with no job, friends or prospects, and whose only source of human contact is a clan of debauched neighbours. Enter Clare (Amy Brangwyn), the attractive law student who transforms Steven's world when she moves in with him.

There are no airs and graces in Birtill's writing and Conrad Blakemore's naturalistic direction. Together they portray the bitterness and melancholy of Steven with panache and comic intuition, while also demonstrating his timidity

and vulnerability. The result is funny and entertaining, but after numerous frank exchanges between Steven and Clare – many of which leave the audience roaring with laughter – the play suddenly winds up with a strangely premature happy ending.


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