Cool character-driven dramas about Londoners are a rare find, so it’s well worth seeking out the story of 31-year-old Daphne (Emily Beecham). She’s a sous chef in a busy kitchen who leads a life that’s all the more absorbing for being so unremarkable. She works, she drinks with her boss, she pontificates to anyone who will listen, she gets stoned, she pulls guys in clubs then chucks them out of the house. She rolls her eyes when she receives a visit from her mum (Geraldine James, standard casting for the mother of any redhead).
There’s something of the misanthrope about her, but you get the feeling there’s more simmering beneath the surface, though it’s quite impressive that a local bouncer (Nathaniel Martello-White) picks up on all this while slinging her out of a club. Romance beckons, but ‘Daphne’ isn’t about that: another event takes place that changes things, though exactly how remains to be seen.
In Peter Mackie Burns’s directorial debut, scripted by Nico Mensinga, the pleasure is watching the credible, humorously depicted details of daily life – the kind of cornershop-and-takeaway existence many Londoners know all too well. Beecham is terrific – spiky and funny, recalling several younger Mike Leigh heroines – she could be the triplet of Clare Skinner and Jane Horrocks in ‘Life Is Sweet’. She’s a heroine and a wisecracking wit who may just resemble women you actually know. Imagine that.