Thursday 2nd June

Seven sins, seven plays and just as many writers: it’s inevitable that parts of disparate quality make up the whole.

Taken from a meeting place at the Bell to a ‘secret location’, it’s clear that, for 20:20 Vision Theatre, Deadly: 7 Plays / 7 Sins is designed to be an immersive experience rather than a static sit-and-stare. Deadly is a night on rails. Led from room to room, the audience is swallowed immediately in performances that compliment well the intriguing venue.

Deadly is a chain of strong and weak links. The pinnacle is ‘Gluttony’, a brilliantly wrought monologue by David Shopland and Callum Hughes, impressively sustained by the sympathetic, compelling David Aitken: easily the best exhibition of writing and acting talent of the night.

The rest of Deadly’s short plays are a mixed bag. ‘Envy’ would break under the weakness of its GCSE grade philosophy if not for its humour, which got the best laughs of the evening. At the same time, ‘Wrath’ is redeemed only by the lively and intensely likeable performance of Alice Van Hees as, ironically, Satan, with its somewhat feeble gestures towards topical and situational comedy.

Though the quality of acting dips in certain places, the cast of Deadly show a vibrant, tangible chemistry throughout. Clemmie Twiggs and Ellis J Wells’s are particularly well matched as a troubled couple, struggling to talk through the kinks of sensitive sexual preoccupations, as well as the drunkards of ‘Greed’, who play buoyantly off of each other to bookend the evening with amicable charm.  

Deadly never quite manages to become the sum of its parts, with its title themes unexplored to a level of connected satisfaction. This, however, doesn’t prevent the production from being extraordinarily engaging, making for a fascinating night out well worth the experience.  

*** – 3 Stars

Joshua Lambert