Fritz & Matlock – Pleasance, London

Reviewer: Jamie Barnes

Writers: James Wallwork and Salvatore D’Aquilla

Director: Jessica Millward

Fritz & Matlock’s marketing promises a ‘contemporary Waiting for Godot’, and there is no doubt that it delivers just that. Written and performed by James Wallwork and Salvatore D’Aquilla, this dark comedy is easily reminiscent of the works of Beckett and Pinter, with a modern perspective on the described “mental tug-of-war”.

Set solely in a basement below their small marijuana farm, all Fritz(D’Aquilla) and Matlock(Wallwork) can do is wait until the coast is clear, before disposing of the body stored in the freezer. Over the course of nine hours, the pair are driven to mental extremes, with every knock on the door, suspicious sound, or even their own fragility, posing a new threat to their sanity. Their interactions range from the entertainingly mundane, such as Matlock eating cold baked beans from the tin with a dirty wooden spoon, to the unconventional and disorientating, which dominate the tense atmosphere, often with Vivaldi serving as a comfortingly surreal backing track to the frantic narrative.

From the first beat, it is easy to determine that Fritz is weak-willed, but possesses a strong moral compass, while Matlock, assertive and idealistic, maintains the upper hand in the exploitative dynamic through his near-sociopathic regime of subtle threats and manipulation. However, the extremity of these two contrasting characters and the volatile environment they find themselves in opens up for changes in dynamic, executing the narrative from each perspective, where both characters fluctuate between the boundaries of morality, logic, and reason. Wallwork and D’Aquilla accomplish the delicate and distinctly erratic relationship between the pair flawlessly, with natural and believable interaction that carries your attention from start to finish.

With principal themes of mental health and toxic friendship, Fritz & Matlock addresses a plethora of philosophical concepts, such as morality, free will, and beauty, while bringing into question the overarching issue of what defines masculinity. In the constant discussion of these elements, the play becomes a successfully candid contemplation of philosophy itself. Together with snappy dialogue, immaculate rhythm, and a strong emotional core, the show easily distinguishes itself as an intricate comedy drama. Fritz & Matlock is exceptional in form, style, and tone, with an effervescent personality and strong focus from start to finish.

Runs until 17 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Candid and Witty Reflection of Contemporary Masculinity

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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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