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A Good Time Was Had By All- play review

Inside one of London's smallest fringe theatres, Sam Smithson's crafty writing is being presented in his play A Good Time Was Had By All. Incorporating some intense interactions between characters, what starts out as an... almost civilised dinner party amongst old university friends soon descends into a messy chaos. All now having gone their separate ways, Chris (Cameron Wilson) has become a police officer, preparing to marry Georgia (Holly Mccomish); Anna (played by Hattie Kemish) works for the BBC, while Liz (Bethany Monk-Lane) has written a book following her return from a Syrian war zone.

The intimacy of the space causes the action to be immersive, and gripping throughout. Each expression and movement is thoughtful, and attention to detail with the script and directions is shown in each part. When explosive conflicts emerge, dark subjects and twisted humour become entwined to reveal a secret that questions the morality of all those around the table, despite a lighthearted game of musical chairs.

Beginning as a typically distinguished play, it is gradually driven further away from mainstream as its politically motivated metaphor becomes more prevalent. Soon, the events bubble over, and where the conversation once batted satisfyingly back and forth between the sassy, sarcastic and dynamic characters, the piece loses sense as it turns ever more absurd and unhinged. While there is little progression on the story itself, the depth is found in the subtle nuances presented that continue to build into the disturbing scenes where the true instincts of those involved come to light, and through a creative depiction of current societal issues, the concept of justice is negotiated.

Overall, this highly unusual show is definitely unpredictable in performance, and upon reflection, certainly makes a statement in doing so, even if utterly nonsensical by the end.


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