The Spoils

Published June 3, 2016

What’s it all about?

Poor little rich kid Ben who, possibly as a result of never having had to work in his life, spends most of his time honing his put-downs, snipes and barbs. When a chance meeting brings a primary school crush back into his world, his pent up energy has a new focus. And, in the form of her fiancé, so does his anger.

Who’s in it?

Jesse Eisenberg – yes, Lex Luther – leads the cast as Ben in the play he also wrote. With the fairness of a rogue machinegun he fires bile and hurtfulness hither and thither, in an attempt to bring everyone to the state of misery, buried anger and self-loathing in which he resides. Except for the rare moments in which he doesn’t, when he appears vaguely human.

The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar, who appeared alongside Eisenberg when The Spoils premiered in New York, reprises his role as flatmate Kalyan, a Powerpoint enthusiast and constant apologist/carer.

Alfie Allen is a treat as the naïve, gawky, nice guy fiancé to Olivier Award winner Katie Brayben’s compassionate Sarah.

There’s a touch of Lady Macbeth – just a touch – about Annapurna Sriram’s Reshma, Kalyan’s girlfriend with a penchant for control and ambition. And a healthy dislike of Ben.

What should I look out for?

An unforgettable confession that’s not unlike the gushing soul-cleansing of Chunk in The Goonies, but far far more disturbing.

The most contrived but beautifully structured pun-based story you’re ever likely to see on the West End stage.

More pot-smoking than a fire at a ceramics factory.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Keith and Lily Allen were both out to support Alfie. Former Spiderman Andrew Garfield dropped in – without the assistance of a web – as did John Dagleish and Robert Sheehan.

In a nutshell?

A sitcom set-up with added spite, The Spoils is a treat of hilarious hurtfulness and laugh-tastic lashing out that will make you think again about the kid who has it all.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

If antagonistic, awkward, shameless characters with a complete lack of a social filter make you giggle, this is absolutely up your street. In Ben, Eisenberg has created a character who brings a new level of offensiveness to the classic friends-in-a-flat sitcom set-up. While we never truly get to the bottom of where the vitriol comes from, the deep sadness that Ben’s abuse must pour from is always apparent in Eisenberg’s performance.

If you’re easily offended, however, this might not be your cup of herbal tea.

The Spoils plays at the Trafalgar Studio 1 until 13 August. You can book tickets through us here.

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