Vincent River by Philip Ridley
A man. A woman. An empty room that soon will be filled with spilled secrets. And, oh yes, a convenient bottle of liquor to make the spilling easier. “Vincent River,” written in 2000 is almost doggedly naturalistic. It takes place in real time, in the present tense, in a recognizable London. Vincent River, starts deep and gets deeper, as both characters are peculiarly confessional right away. With no time for a gentle emotional warm-up, we struggle to immerse ourselves as fully as we would like in the repercussions of the murder of 33-year-old homosexual Vincent.
Hounded by the prejudiced taunts of the neighbours on her Bethnal Green estate, Vincent’s mother Anita has been forced to move to a new flat. Here she waits, in an almost furniture-free room, with only a bottle of gin for solace. Davey, who has long lurked outside, has finally been invited in. It was he who found Vincent’s body, he says, him and his fiancée.
The final destination of the piece is clear from 10 minutes in but as Ridley handles so adeptly the accretion of layers of detail, it makes the journey worth following. Moments of black humour and blacker horror sit side by side, as Davey offloads the knowledge that has been burdening him onto the one person who is desperate to hear. First staged 10 years ago at the Hampstead Theatre, London the themes of this play are, sadly, as resonant today as they were then.
‘Philip Ridley doesn’t write plays so much as dark hallucinations in which the world is skewed through his penetrating vision, so we look at it through new eyes… As the truth is exhumed and the dead seem to walk again there is a redemptive sense that it is through honesty in our personal relationships that absolution can be found.’ (The Guardian)
This is the latest in a series of great shows brought over from Bedford’s Swan Theatre Company in collaboration with the English Comedy Club.