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Impotent – Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London

Writer: Matt Reed

Director: Graham Hubbard

Reviewer: Joanna Forest

[rating:5]

Talented new writer Matt Reed’s ‘Impotent’ is an absolute gem of a piece as a fascinating yet humorous look at the world of erectile dysfunction. The author is quoted in the programme as saying “if you can’t get either humour or poignancy from the subject matter you should have your quill and parchment confiscated” but fortunately, he has definitely achieved both. This play doesn’t just have laugh-out-loud moments, it’s a marathon of comedy that will have you laughing as much as a night out to see your favourite comedian.

Impotent centres on Dr Lane, committed to helping the patients at her clinic by delving into their minds to try and find the underlying reasons for their problems and Helena Blackman’s performance as the doctor is the glue of this piece. We are a fly on the wall at each of her sessions and as well as learning about her clients as they answer all her questions, we learn a lot about this doctor by the way she listens and reacts to their stories.

Before we meet each of Lane’s clients we are introduced to the women in their lives, evidently all part of their unfortunate problem. In a clever piece of casting, these are all portrayed expertly and ingeniously by Jessie May. This is a great opportunity for an actress to show their range and versatility and May grabs it firmly with both hands.

As the play progresses, it emerges that each patient has a very different story to tell the doctor. Paul Harnet plays complex character clergyman Joseph with sensitivity and wit, Tom Durant-Pritchard’s Gareth is bright but with achingly low self-esteem. Our heart breaks for Keith played by Don Cotter, who has been ill- treated by his wife but remains devoted to the memory of their marriage. Neil Stewart’s loud and opinionated Gordon is perfectly irritating and bombastic. Handsome Nick Drake is totally engaging as a mysterious self professed ‘f**k up’ Saul. Totally believable he gives us a real insight into a young man living with this problem, a great performance.

The second act sees the clients attend a group meditation meeting and even though this is hilarious for the audience, we leave with the feeling that the patients perhaps still have a long way to go before they are cured.

Graham Hubbard’s excellent direction along with the fantastic script, and talented cast means that Michael Oliver Production’s ‘Impotent’ is a triumph.

Runs until 26th January

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