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Only Human- Theatre 503, London

Writer: Rose Lewenstein

Director: Anna Jordon

Reviewer: Sarah Nutland

[Rating:3.5]

Only Human comes to Theatre503 as part of Labfest 2012, a two week line up of the best new full-length plays around.

Only Human is a gritty story about Nina, a stripper who has a chance encounter with Lawyer Oscar and the effect this has on their lives. Both seem lost and find solace in each other, but it all comes crashing down around them when reality hits as daughter Ellie leaves her boyfriend and comes to stay. It raises questions about them all as characters and their ability to change as well as wider ones about the fundamentals of human nature.

You are instantly hooked in to the play by the punchy first line, which forces the audience to sit up and listen. It continues at a great pace with very witty dialogue throughout. This is especially the case in the scene where Oscar, played by Euan MacNaughton, pays for his daughter’s boyfriend to have a lap dance. Simon, the boyfriend, played by Jack Donnelly, is a very endearing character and Donnelly played the nervous and awkward scenes with his father-in-law with great comic timing.

It’s a very strongly written and intelligent play, but a little preachy in places, presenting the moral argument and prejudice about stripping, rather than a natural feeling conversation. However, the speech delivered by Nina at the end of the play, beautifully acted by Pearl Mackie, was extremely moving.

The open ended nature of the piece was good; writer Rose Lewenstein carefully led us towards a conclusion, but allowed the audience to use their imaginations to finish off the story. Despite finding it hard at times to invest in some of the characters, I cared enough to spend time considering possible endings for their journeys in my head afterwards.

Theatre503 is a great venue, presenting and developing excellent new writing. Long may it continue!

Runs until 6th July

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