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‘The One’ review

  • Theatre, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Tuppence Middleton makes a fine Phoebe Waller-Bridge replacement as Vicky Jones's dark comedy returns

Before we had ‘Fleabag’ – Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sexy, blistering monologue about a young Londoner making a mess of life and love, later filmed for the BBC – we had this, the debut play by Waller-Bridge’s friend and collaborator Vicky Jones.

‘The One’ won the Soho Theatre’s prestigious Verity Bargate award back in 2013, and had its premiere there the following year, starring Waller-Bridge. Together, Jones and Waller-Bridge run the theatre company DryWrite, and Jones directed ‘Fleabag’ for the stage.

In this new production, directed for its second outing by Soho boss Steve Marmion, rising star Tuppence Middleton steps into Waller-Bridge’s shoes (figuratively speaking – she remains barefoot throughout) as Jo, another young woman in the ‘Fleabag’ mould: clever, restless, vulnerable, with a seriously nasty streak. 

John Hopkins is her boyfriend, Harry: Jo’s former professor, ten years her senior, but no better able to navigate the channels of their passionate, mutually destructive relationship. A night of sex, arguing and unconventional Wotsit consumption is interrupted, at intervals, by Harry’s friend Kerry (Julia Sandiford), who is definitely not just popping round for a mug of Ovaltine.

As with Waller-Bridge, Jones’s skill as a writer lies in skewering the way people actually speak and behave – or at least would do, if they were brave or messed up enough. Her script brims with twisted humour, and confronts just about every relationship taboo, from betrayal and violence to sexual consent – with the sections about the latter today carrying a particularly uncomfortable, knife-edge pertinence.

Middleton and Hopkins have a tangible chemistry, and, along with Sandiford, embody a naturalism that makes us feel we are flies on the wall in what is surely the unhappiest flat in London. 

The decision to punctuate the action with extracts from the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber still seems an odd one, undermining our rising feeling of claustrophobia – though perhaps we all need a couple of moments to catch our breath. But the play remains a compelling, unflinching examination of a couple trapped between love and loathing, like the ragtag English descendants of characters by Edward Albee or Tennessee Williams.

Written by
Laura Barnett

Details

Event website:
www.sohotheatre.com
Address:
Price:
£13.50-£33. Runs 1hr 5min
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