Writer: Daisy King
Director: Laura Wooff
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
NOF*CKSGIVENis the last play to be performed in the King’s Head Theatre’s season of plays written by women, Who Runs the World? Daisy King’s story of a woman caught in a cycle of drink and drugs is both funny and affecting, but ultimately is underwritten.
The Who Runs the World?season is a response to Edward Hall’s open letter to The Stage, defending the lack of plays written by women being produced at the Hampstead Theatre. One of the reasons for this gender imbalance, he suggests, is that there are not enough plays out there written by women, and he’s not prepared to take the risk with a new female British playwright, who may not, he implies, be able to sell out Hampstead’s main stage. However, Louisa Davis, the senior producer of the King’s Head Theatre, is determined to take the risk that Hall wouldn’t, giving a platform to plays written and directed by women. But while there is much to be admired in Davis’s gamble, NOF*CKSGIVEN may not be the best climax to this short season.
Stacy likes drinking, drugs and football – in the 90s we would have called her a ‘ladette’ – but since she’s split up from Psycho Steve, she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. She’s also effectively homeless and spends her nights couch surfing at various friends. But when she meets Dave, the plumber, perhaps her nights getting blotto at The White Horse have come to an end.
Although this is a three-hander, NOF*CKSGIVEN really should be a one-woman play. Phoebe Thomas soars as Stacy and could easily do this play alone, acting out the other minor roles with ease. While Velilie Tshabalala, who plays Stacy’s friend Christine, and Gaz Hayden, who plays every man in Stacy’s life, give decent enough support, their roles seem superfluous. And it would provide an extra layer of humour if Thomas performed as the men, giving them a false swagger. It may also prolong the humour too, as the switch between comedy and tragedy is too clear-cut here. The first part is very funny, but some of these jokes could be moved to the last 20 minutes of this 50-minute play to give the writing some consistency. King seems to forget that we can still be moved by comedy.
While the play needs some work, Thomas’ performance is quite staggering, and, despite Stacy’s faults and arrogance, we warm to her, and the trap she’s in is a familiar one to many, both male and female. NOF*CKSGIVEN may not tell a story that is unique to women only, but in this last week of the Who Runs the World? season, it’s Thomas’ performance that would make Beyoncé proud.
Runs until 12 May 2018 | Image: Contributed