Published October 13, 2015

What’s it all about?

Simon may be trapped in a foreign prison and facing his execution in a matter of hours, but that’s not what this is about… Not really. As his mother and father arrive for his final visiting hour, this is about parent-child relationships and whether you should get things off your chest while you still have the chance or let them die with you.

Within minutes of meeting Simon you know which route he’s going to take, and it’s not going to end well… for anybody.

Who’s in it?

A stellar line-up of performers is crammed into the Trafalgar Studios’ most intimate space. The Game star Tom Hughes leads the cast as Simon. Hughes’ Simon is consumed by fear – terrified and shaking uncontrollably – but at the same time he’s deliberately aggravating, self-confident and relentlessly cruel in a situation that would usually warrant tenderness and emotional farewells.

Anthony Head is compelling as his father Edward, agitated by his darkest secret, struggling to control his temper and embarrassed by his son’s crude questioning.

Caught in the middle of their disputes, Niamh Cusack captures the unimaginable distress of a mother whose son is hours away from his death.

What should I look out for?

A moment capable of breaking the most hardened of hearts, as Cusask’s Sylvia enters the visiting room to see her son for the final time.

More moments – some poignant, others hilarious – as Hughes’ Simon remembers his former life on the other side of the bars, from the feeling of walking on grass to painting his dog red as a child.

In a nutshell?

Tom Hughes gives a mesmerising performance as the condemned man at the heart of Paul Andrew Williams’ gut-wrenching debut play.

Who was in the press night crowd?

More recognisable faces than you’re ever likely to see in such a tiny auditorium were out in force to support Williams in his theatrical writing debut. Angela Griffin, Nick Moran, Andy Nyman, David Baddiel, Toby Stephens, Charles Dance, Laura Carmichael, even Bilbo Baggins himself – Martin Freeman – were seen taking their seats for this intense 85 minutes of scintillating drama.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

This one will very much depend on whether you’re a fan of tear jerkers or indeed willing to let yourself sob uncontrollably in public. The performances are exceptional, the story is compelling and the production is beautifully executed, but boy will you leave the theatre feeling depressed. We recommend you take tissues… Lots of them.

Ticking is playing at the Trafalgar Studio 2 until 7 November. You can book tickets through the venue’s website.

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