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Radiant Vermin

Published 12 March 2015

What’s it all about?

The housing crisis and one couple’s dark and disturbing solution to it.

The latest play from Philip Ridley, it tackles the problem of soaring property prices and the difficulties faced by young people when trying to buy a home of their own. Except it takes a rather unusual form, that of a dark comic fairytale.

With their first baby on the way, Ollie and Jill want nothing more than to leave the dodgy estate where they currently live to bring up their new arrival in the home of their dreams. It comes as a pleasant surprise, then, when they receive a letter inviting them to take part in a too-good-to-be-true dream homes project. Understandably they jump at the chance. But as their home is given to them for free by a mysterious fairy godmother-like character, you can’t help but wonder, what’s the catch?

Who’s in it?

Games Of Thrones’ Gemma Whelan plays the panicky and excitable Jill, a mother desperate to give her child a decent upbringing and dying to put her extravagant interior design ideas to good use.

Sean Michael Verey’s Ollie, a geeky and caring figure whose voice and demeanour displays hints of Joe Pasquale, is a man determined to make the perfect life for his wife and child, whatever the personal costs (there are no financial ones).

Then there’s Amanda Daniels, as the sinister and patronising Ms Dee who makes it all happen.

What should I look out for?

Some extremely funny fight scenes between  Ollie and his physically non-existent opponents, a hilarious triumph in character-shifting to rival The 39 Steps and the seemingly innocuous terms “Humane home renovation” and “Suspicion-free home renovator collection”, which are all the more sinister in reality.

In a nutshell?

Surreal and disturbing but brimming with wit, Philip Ridley’s new play takes a young couple’s desperation to get on the property ladder to a whole new level.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Rachel_Tackley Go meet a loathsome couple @sohotheatre #RadiantVermin. Stunning performances. Hats off @philipridley and you lovely people @SupportingWall

@benclare Philip Ridley’s #RadiantVermin @sohotheatre is very dark & very funny. Virtuoso performances & brilliant direction from @DavidMercatali

Will I like it?

If you like theatre to tackle important and timely issues at the same time as providing an evening of quality entertainment, this is definitely for you. Radiant Vermin makes you think, not only about what you would do in Jill and Ollie’s unusual situation but about your own actions in life.

There are no headphones or live screened camera footage – as there are in Mike Bartlett’s Game, which also features a couple trying to beat the housing crisis – just a plain white backdrop that leaves it up to the play and its performers to bring the tale to life. And boy do they do it well.


Radiant Vermin is booking at the Soho Theatre until 12 April. You can book tickets though the venue’s website.


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