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Phil Willmott

Review: BEGINNING at the Ambassadors Theatre

Beginning - Play - Ambassadors Theatre The dance show STOMP has been playing at the Ambassadors Theatre for so long that I haven't been there for years and I had to remind myself where it was. STOMP has now left the building making room for a transfer of this exquisite play by David Eldridge.

It's one of those plays where nothing much apparently happens whitest at the same time it manages to explore some of the big themes that touch all our lives at one time or another.

If you're in your thirties, heterosexual and single it's going to feel particularly relevant to you. That's the situation in which its two characters find themselves when they're left alone at the end of a party. The hostess, Laura (Justine Mitchell) is a successful professional who fancies her remaining guest, Essex lad, Danny (Sam Troughton) They've never met before but he also fancies her and both hope they'll spend the night together. The route to the bedroom ought to be quite simple then but this isn't the case. Boy, is this not the case.

Over the ensuing one hour and forty five interval-less minutes you listen to the minutiae of their anxieties and observe and become aware of the tiny details in their physical behaviour, which often gives away as much as what they're saying.

If that sounds like a daunting watch it is but it's also a hugely rewarding one. At first you wait for some massive plot twist to happen or dark secret to be revealed but this isn't a TV box set and it's soon apparent that this is isn't going to happen. This is simply two people negotiating a hook-up which will allow them to retain some self-respect, won't stir up past insecurities and won't lead to heartbreak. Settle back as you might for a long-haul flight and admire the psychological precision of the writing and acting, and the detail in Polly Findlay's direction.

The truly amazing achievement of this production is that the characters remain likeable and retain our sympathy, even our affection, whilst cataloguing so many of the obstacles which prevent people getting together in modern London. It never feels like the playwright is working through a check list and the protagonists seem all too human.

This is a must-see for anyone who's ever felt insecure about their love life. That ought to keep the box office busy!

Beginning - Ambassadors Theatre