What’s it all about?
Addiction. Finding meaning in life. The now. Coping. Theatre. Acting. Strength. Truth.
It’s the story of Emma (maybe), an alcohol and drug abusing actor trying to rebuild her life. It can be summed up that simply, but I could spend all day talking with you about it, so richly written is the show.
Who’s in it?
DENISE GOUGH. Excuse the capitalisation, but it has never been more necessary. Gough’s been a working actress for years, but this is the very definition of a break out role.
Gough is everything. It is an entirely complete performance. Torn, angry, desperate, witty, empty, intelligent, vitriolic, fake, truthful. Nothing is left out and everything is left on the stage at the end of the night. You root for her Emma so much – despite the myriad reasons not to – that it took all my self-control not to clamber onstage and try to control the play’s conclusion.
There are exceptional performances also from Nathaniel Martello-White as big brother substitute and fellow rehabber Mark, and Barbara Marten as all manner of doctors, therapists and Emma’s mother. They are brilliant, but Gough is something else.
What should I look out for?
The very Headlong moments when Emma’s emotions and actions under the influence of a plethora of substances are staged, bringing every aspect of the production design together.
Gough in full flow. She’s simply astounding.
In a nutshell?
Denise Gough gives the performance of her life in an incredible tale of addiction and coping that lives up to every ounce of hype.
Who was in the press night crowd?
Harvey Keitel. Yes, that Harvey Keitel. Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington, Natalie Dormer and Rose Leslie. Sherlock’s Andrew Scott. Yep, it was a starry one.
What’s being said on Twitter?
— Louise Brealey (@louisebrealey) March 24, 2016
— Gemma Cook (@Gemma_ish) March 22, 2016
Will I like it?
If you like theatre, then yes. This is the type of show that leaves you both entirely fulfilled and questioning your very existence.
So much will be written about Gough, and rightly so, but Duncan Macmillan’s script is witty and intelligent, aggravating, taunting and entertaining. It puts the pressures of modern life under a microscope and forces us to face them. It leaves you assaulted, confused and exhilarated.