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Microcosm

Published May 12, 2014

What’s it all about?

That moment when you intervene in a situation and question whether it would have not been better to turn a blind eye instead.

Bruntwood Prize-winning writer Matt Hartley has explored this topical predicament and taken it to extreme lengths to create a drama that questions exactly what it means to feel safe in your home. The result is a claustrophobic city-set thriller in which a young couple’s first home turns from haven to hell after a flippant exchange with a speeding youth leads to bricks through windows and sinister stalking… or does it?

Who’s in it?

Philip McGinley leads the cast as the increasingly paranoid Alex. Seemingly a well-adjusted, happy go lucky fellow, McGinley paints a believable picture of a spiral of anxiety and fantastical thinking as Alex’s worries about protecting his home lead to an unhealthy obsession with watching the sinister – in his mind anyway – gang outside his window.

Jenny Rainsford gives a compelling performance as his city-smart girlfriend, offering a pragmatic but increasingly frustrated viewing point, while John Lightbody plays their overly familiar, intensely irritating and occasionally bigoted Tom Cruise-obsessed neighbour.

What should I look out for?

The play’s atmospheric heat wave, which, following in many a theatrical great’s footsteps, serves to slowly build tension in this pressure cooker tale as the temperature – and Alex’s stress level – rises. A perfect fit with the Soho Theatre’s sweltering, but effectively intimate, Studio space.

In a nutshell?

Matt Hartley’s pressure cooker of a drama compellingly blurs the lines of reality and paranoia right up to its shocking conclusion.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@CraigeEls78 Saw #Microcosm @sohotheatre last night. Ace cast, and top writing from this guy…the legend that is @Matt__Hartle

@chizcw Really enjoyed #microcosm at Soho Theatre tonight. Very well written. Acting was spot on.

Will I like it?

If you’re looking for a short and sweet piece of new writing to spark debate in the bar afterwards and give you a reason to feel pleased you’re not yet on the property ladder – you can choose your home but not your neighbours after all – then Hartley’s piece will provide 90 minutes of fast-paced entertainment.