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Smallholding

Published 21 February 2014

What’s it all about?

Smallholding is one of those plays that you come to not knowing what it’s about. Even if you’ve read the synopsis. It comes as a shock, then, to discover that this is a tale of addiction, of two individuals who are so dependent on a chemical substance that all hope of getting their lives back on track is constantly trashed. As the play progresses and they continue to fight with themselves and each other on their farm in Northamptonshire, we discover the price they have had and still have to pay as a result of their destructive habit.

Who’s in it?

Matti Houghton and Chris New deliver a gripping and brutal two-hander. Their visceral performances as a desperate couple struggling against the addictive effects of heroin and striving to forge a new life for themselves are distressing but inevitably absorbing.

The duo look physically and emotionally drained by the end of it, but it’s not surprising when you consider the inner turmoil and conflict, both personal and physical, that their characters are put through in Chris Dunkley’s gripping drama.

What should I look out for?

Vegetable puns. Who doesn’t love vegetable puns?

Who was in the press night crowd?

Director Patrick Sandford, who had taken it upon himself to give audience members recommendations on where best to sit as they entered the auditorium.

In a nutshell?

A blistering portrait of two desperate individuals brought to life in gripping performances by Matti Houghton and Chris New.

What’s being said on Twitter?

‏@AttenboroughTom V privileged to see press night of @_HighTide_ show SMALLHOLDING upstairs at Soho Theatre. Gripping play, brilliantly acted. Catch it.

‏@Usztan Honestly blown away by @cjdunkley’s SMALLHOLDING @sohotheatre. Richer, more intense in transfer. @cjnew and Matti Houghton riveting.

Will I like it?

‘Like’ is a difficult word to use here. You’re not going to like this play like you like relaxing in a park on a sunny afternoon or you’d like making your way through the show’s KitKat strewn pavlova. It’s too painful for that. You will like it like you like the feeling you get after doing an hour and a half of gruelling exercise. It’s agonising to go through but rewarding in the end.

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