Chop Me Up Or Let Me Go – The Hen & Chickens Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer and Director: Lesley Ann Albiston

Superstar, Thomas Reynolds is being held hostage. Although used to overbearing fans and creepy stalkers, he’s never been kidnapped before, and especially not by someone that doesn’t want to sleep with him! Kidnapper, Astrid Barton isn’t the usual stalker – she doesn’t have ransom demands, isn’t wildly in love with him and isn’t even obsessed with the industry. Her ulterior motives for locking Reynolds away from the world are much more complex.

One thing this play does extremely well is showcase the skills of lead actor Alastair Coughlan. His portrayal of egotistical kidnapped actor Thomas Reynolds dominates the performance and energises moments where the script lacks pace. He runs through his talents like a personalised showreel , most impressively being his brief piece on the violin. In comparison, Ciara Murphy playing Astrid Barton appears a little lost on stage at times, evidently trying to find her place within the narrative to portray the conflicting shy yet manipulative character. She’s missing the quirky and sinister nature that her character requires to balance out Coughlan’s big on-stage presence.

However, as skilled as Coughlan is, the script written by Lesley Ann Albiston lacks depth, with most of the scenes being repetitive escape attempts masked with the same loop of commentary. The repetition means that the big reveal of why the hostage situation is taking place gets lost somewhat and isn’t the dark comedic twist that could have been.

While the whole world has been grasped in the clutches of COVID-19, unable to escape the words ‘pandemic’ or ‘vaccine’ at any given turn, it feels unimaginative to have this as the crux of the performance. Topical yes, unique not so much. If necessary to reference or utilise this within the narrative, it could have been approached with more comedy or shock value to really hone in on the theme.

This short play is packed with punchy dialogue and snappy retorts. The references to popular horror movies and TV shows become little Easter eggs for the audience, checking their own reference points to see what they pick up on. With a bit more direction within the narrative this could be a great one-act dark comedy.

Runs until 23 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Lacks Depth

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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