Writer: Arnold Wesker
Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher
Reviewer: Michael JH Wells
Those who desperately seek an answer will eventually find one, but the danger lies in who they trust to help them look – especially when they don’t know what they’re looking for. Denial is a play about a young woman, Jenny, who reaches a point in her life where she feels she needs help, and so she turns to Valery Morgan, a charmingly persuasive and quick witted therapist who specialises in child trauma superbly played by Sally Plumb who gives both a funny and terrifying performance.
The revelations that arise from Jenny’s sessions shatter her world and that of her family, who in turn seek help in the form of a television reporter, Sandy Cornwall played by Maggie Daniels, who is a constant source of energy and drives every scene she touches, skilfully and intelligently.
This play is a Masterclass in writing engaging drama and holding an audience (and with the play running to 95mins without an interval, that’s not easy) by skilfully weaving moments of light comedy with genuine heartbreak. Wesker presents a very gripping and touching storyline in a way that generates huge empathy with the characters involved, and it genuinely is a joy to watch it unfold.
The staging was simple, but it did exactly what it needed to do and allowed the story to flow seamlessly through a series of challenging scenes. The cast are very capable, and at times superb – with special mentions also to Shelly Lang who plays Jenny’s sister, Abigail, who is captivating to watch throughout with a resolute and dignified intelligence, which serves her character a superb justice, and Jon Bromley playing Ziggy Landsman, a friend of the family and war veteran who’s charming and considered performance is equally wonderful.
This is not a play for those who just want to be entertained. It is a play for those who want to see a very real family put under extraordinary and challenging circumstances, which at times is distressing and painful – and as such it is a great piece of theatre.