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Cuddles – Oval House, London

Writer: Joseph Wilde

Director: Rebecca Atkinson-Lord

Reviewer: Lou Flaxman

[rating:3]

Cuddles cr Alex Beckett (2)_1In the attic of the house they once shared with their parents, 13 year old vampire Eve is looked after by her sister Tabby. Pale and grubby, Eve believes that the world outside her ‘castle’ is one filled with dragons, princesses and the sunlight that would kill her if it touched her skin.

Acid-tongued and ruthless Tabby has created a system of rules by which they have lived, but when a chugger she attacks in the street starts to woo her, Tabby begins to question whether the life they have created for themselves is sustainable.

Rendah Haywood does a wonderful job of showing the cracks in Tabby’s cruel and frosty exterior and the impossibility of trying to change her acid tongue. Tabby’s embarrassment when she tells a joke to ease the tension on a dinner date (‘I want to have an abortion, but I can’t seem to get pregnant’) is subtle and funny.

Carla Langley, fresh from a critically acclaimed debut in Desolate Heaven at Theatre503, as Eve is brave and unflinching. At once tragic and ludicrous, Langley allows for genuinely touching and comic moments to sit happily in a rather stark and gruesome play.

The play delights in shocking its audience, and while some of the more jaw-dropping moments feel justified and well-earned, there are some moments that feel provocative for provocative’s sake. There is some nudity that feels gratuitous and some themes- those of child abuse and masochism in particular, feel a little under-explored.

Writer Joseph Wilde delivers an arresting debut and writes with panache, but it suffers slightly on account of its own fearlessness. That being said, it seems likely he will go from strength to strength and I look forward to his next production.

Photo: Alex Beckett

Runs until 1st June

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