Late Company, Finborough Theatre | Review

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Late Company
Finborough Theatre
Reviewed on Friday April 28th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Late Company is one of the most moving and well executed plays I've seen. Written by award-winning Canadian playwright, Jordan Tannahill when he was only twenty-three, it follows two families dealing with the roles they played in the suicide of a young boy. 

Michael and Debora Shaun-Hastings are the parents of teenager, Joel who died by suicide a year earlier. They have invited the Dermots: mother and father Tamara and Michael and their son, Curtis  who played a big role in the bullying that led to Joel's suicide, round for dinner to build bridges and get "closure". The play is a study of grief, cyber bullying, parental guidance and homophobia among many other issues.

Of course this is a heavy subject and there's no avoiding that but the admirable thing with this play is that nothing is pushed or over emoted. The issues come forward naturally and the audience become greatly involved. The intimate setting, brilliant acting, writing, stage design and lighting all play a key factor in  allowing the audience to get lost in the production. At points I forgot I was watching as an audience member and really felt that I was at the dinner party. 

The small cast of five are all equally outstanding with Alex Lowe, Lisa Stevenson, Todd Boyce and Lucy Robinson playing the roles of the parents in a heartfelt way but fully showing the flaws in their parenting techniques and world views. David Leopold is exceptional as Curtis, embodying the teenage withdrawal and innocence perfectly and conveying so much with few words and short sentences. 

Praise must be given to Michael Yale for his faultless direction which established the permeating emotion to seep into every audience member. There was such intimacy but it didn't feel overwhelming, almost as if we were all flies on the wall watching the dinner party unfold. Yale's handling of the script is sympathetic, pure, relevant and intelligent. 

Late Company is more relevant now than ever and the entire company manages to bring the issues forward in a stunning way. It's an engaging look at the society we live in and the how impacts of what we do, which may seem innocent, can affect people. It encourages us to look at our own actions and to make sure we face problems head on instead of avoiding them and potentially facing horrific consequences. These issues surround us at all times so there's no point pretending they're not there and Late Company has done a wonderful job at bringing them to the forefront. 

Late Company runs at the Finborough Theatre until 20th May 2017

Photo credit: Charlie Round Turner