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Steve And Then It Ended – Theatre503, London

Writer: Adam Usden

Director: Oscar Blustin

Reviewer: Lizzie Kirkwood

[rating:4]

Steve And Then It Ended is the debut play from emerging playwright Adam Usden, a Royal Court Studio writer and newly selected member of the Traverse Fifty. Set at the end of the world, two parents and their teenage son watch the apocalypse unfold through their kitchen window. As the end of humanity approaches, their last evening is imagined with unwavering naturalism and sensitivity. They are never able to confront their situation, always wanting a kind of emotional assurance from each other, but not quite able to ask.

This is an ideal script for Theatre503 and it sits well in the space. A tender and naturalistic drama, set in a science fiction landscape, the script carries the audience through the story with assurance and skill, never once threatening to let the ball drop. There are a few beautifully pitched comic moments, particularly from Steve [Matt Sutton] and these sit happily next to the more quietly tragic elements, played out beautifully between Annie [Jane Jeffrey] and her son Stan [Paul Moss]. Paul Moss delivers the stand-out performance; his quiet portrayal of 15 year old Stan is subtle and enigmatic.

Annie’s description of bringing her son back from hospital as a baby boy and Stan’s silent understanding of his mother’s emotional needs is a starkly touching moment. Unfortunately, the end of the play veers a little too close to sentimentality and seems to forget the raw bravery of the opening soliloquy, but despite this the standard of writing remains high.

Sherry Coenen’s lighting design is used to fabulous effect, leading the audience between kitchen sink realism and stylised soliloquy with ease. Oscar Blustin’s direction is slick and assured, but the real star of the show is the script. Adam Usden will surely have a long and successful career—a writer to watch.

Runs until 19th January

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