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Hope/Liverpool Royal Court

Womack and Womack thriller is well worth the trip, says Emma Griffiths

Published on March 9th 2013.


Hope/Liverpool Royal Court

BRINGING a very different approach to the Royal Court's usual and, it has to be said, hugely popular brand of comedy this month is Hope, the first theatrical expedition from Thirty7 Productions. 

Written, directed and featuring Liverpool's Scot Williams (Nice Guy Eddie, Cape Wrath) it is its two stars Mark and Samantha Womack who have attracted most of the pre-publicity. The production promises a thrilling, dark comedy with a secret. Masterfully directed by Williams, Hope brings an intelligent script to life on stage. 

Samantha Womack confidently portrays a mysterious and beautiful yet damned Hope, desperately looking for a path to escape her pain

Norm (Mark Womack), is a struggling writer desperate to complete his book yet tarnished by chronic writer's block and severe insomnia. He is tangled up with his intrusive flatmate Guy (René Zagger), apparent love interest and lodger Hope (Samantha Womack) along with stranger Victor (Scott Williams), her latest conquest. 

The production follows events within the early hours of yet another pained morning in the group's Blundellsands bedsit. Stranded within his own reflections, Norm is seemingly unable to escape the distractions and obstacles thrown at him by life. 

Focusing on the conversation between Norm and Guy, the storyline only occasionally strays to the whimsical, chemical-fuelled diversions of Hope and analytical contact with Victor, the haunting stranger who is awash with advice for this troubled pair. 

Norm appears to have found himself caged within an invisible prison of his own making, frustrated with his inability to focus on his writing - and with his current company. Norm's anger and dissolution with the state of his affairs is unmistakable, but Mark Womack's translation would benefit from a more pronounced range of human emotions to truly capture the audience’s empathy and understanding. 

Despite Hope's brief encounters with Norm and Guy, the character manages to captivate her flatmates while delicately pulling at the seams of their lives. Samantha Womack confidently portrays a mysterious and beautiful yet damned Hope, desperately looking for a path to escape her pain. 

A strong performance from Zagger injects a healthy dose of much appreciated humour into the story in the form of loveable pest Guy. A constant thorn in the side of the leading man, Guy's steadfast commitment to picking apart the struggling writer's thoughts and opinions opens up an enjoyable conversation between the duo. 

Brimming with literary references throughout, the producers may desire an academic audience to follow the intense, dialogue-heavy narrative. However, a little patience with the script goes a long way and a thoroughly convincing performance from the cast along, with the play's thought provoking twist are worth a trip to a very different show at the Royal Court. 

8/10

Hope runs until March 30.

 

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