Hmm, this is something of a misfire. Eve Leigh’s brand new four-hander ‘The Trick’ is clearly meant to be a playful, poignant meditation on aging, dusted with a light sprinkling of stage magic, but it fails on pretty much every level. Tonally disjointed and clunkily staged, it would be a one-starrer were it not for the geniality of its cast.
Leigh’s play loosely follows Mira, an elderly widow, still haunted by the ghost of her late husband. We see her getting fleeced by two bullying builders after a stove fire. We see her getting angry at a fake fortune-teller. We see her on a hospital bed, severely undernourished after refusing to eat for days.
These sobering scenes, though, are juxtaposed jarringly with bizarre interludes. An audience member getting their palm read, gameshow-style. A lengthy, long-winded story about a Jewish shoemaker resettling in America. A dance-filled discussion of magic. The whole thing is all over the place – it’s shapeless, and feels like it should’ve gone through several more draft before it reached the stage.
Director Roy Alexander Weise has been hailed as something of a rising star – he won the JMK Award for young directors, and his National Theatre production of ‘Nine Night’ just closed in the West End – but this is far from his best work. His staging is sloppy and unsubtle, underusing Jemima Robinson’s glittery set, but overusing Odinn Orn Hilmarsson’s intrusive sound design.
His four-strong cast supply mismatched performances, too. There’s no hint of love or loss between Lachele Carl’s lightweight Mira and David Verrey’s gruff, growling husband-ghost, and Sharlene Whyte and Ani Nelson are lumbered with several under-written, bit-part roles each. To be honest, though, none of them have got much to work with. Entirely unmemorable and, indeed, best forgotten.