Darling – The Hope Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Kathy Rucker

Director: Scott Le Crass

Business brain Dave and partner Angie are on to a money-maker with their new lonely-hearts business. By writing deep, meaningful letters to love-starved gents across America they’ve stumbled across the winning formula. By spinning sob stories and heart-warming tales, they manage to convince their victims to part with their cash and help their damsel in distress. They were the original catfishes before the days of Tinder but surely it’s only a matter of time before their luck runs out?

Darling, written by Kathy Rucker and set in 1980s Midwestern America is a tale of love, loss and lies. While the foundations are there for a strong glimpse into the past, to uncover the inspiration behind this true story, it lacks substance. Unfortunately, there is little weight behind the scenes to drive the narrative forward and truly engage the audience, considering there are four main characters, with varying interweaving plot lines. In addition, it is a relatively long play, running just under two hours but it still feels flat at points and lacks action.

The cast however, are very good, and truly enrich the parts they have been placed into. While it’s almost not a compliment to say Heider Ali is fantastic in his role as heartless scumbag Dave, he really is. His manipulative, dismissive manner towards Angie, played by Lucia Young is counteracted by her confliction towards the scam they run. Innocent yet also eager to rise up in the ranks, Young steps up to the plate and delivers on being just as much of a victim as anyone else.

On the other side of the scam are grief-stricken son Pete, played by Tom Edward Kane, and father Roy, played by Colin Bruce, both mourning the loss of Pete’s mother. When Angie enters Pete’s life he finally sees a beacon of light in his dull, monotonous world; so chasing his dream of true love, he jets across the country to find her. Edward-Kane really tugs on the heartstrings with his emotionally loaded performance, his distress engulfing the audience. Bruce is impeccable within his role, but doesn’t have enough time on stage to really commend his talent. The passion and depth he brings to his character, although only with brief points on stage, is memorable.

Director Scott Le Crass artistically manoeuvres each scene into each other, with gently choreographed overlaps, suiting the slightly nuanced script well. Although this isn’t the edge of your seat catfish catastrophe that was expected, it’s still worth ‘swiping right’ on – even if it doesn’t fully deliver.

Runs until 27 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Love, loss & lies

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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