Back with another gritty piece of quality writing, Abi Hood has introduced her next production- Spiral- to the West End boroughs through the studio space at Jermyn Street Theatre. Surrounding themes of trust and pain, two vastly different worlds collide to create disaster but an ounce of safety for one another, as a string of hope to hold onto forms.
A missing girl and a broken family: Tom (played by Jasper Jacob) and Gill (Rebecca Crankshaw) find their relationship in tatters, seeming irreparable. A torrent of abuse succumbed and no escape: Leah (Abi Hood) and Mark (Kevin Tomlinson) navigate the strains of the toxicity involved being with one another.
It appears that Abi is fond of playing the school girl look (and does so very well!) as she enters to meet Tom, who has hired her as an escort, but for an unusual purpose. With the request designed to mimic his missing daughter, it is only nearing the end of the interaction that Leah's looks and attempt at roleplaying the scenario come to combine with the image of Tom, realising who he is. Still enjoying each other's company though, and the brief freedom of distraction from their devastating daily lives, this relief had potential for trouble too.
Telling stories from a perspective previously untouched, Abi's writing always brings a fresh script to the table, brimming with potential. As tensions get fraught with Leah and Mark - a possessive, overbearing man, with a terrifyingly tyrannical persona - audiences feel the raw emotion in the actions on stage. With only minimal set or props and an intimate space to fill, the powerful and poignant drama alone does the job to provide a strong, thought-provoking narrative about what it means to exist alongside one another. Tom and Gill's fragility explodes, causing their scenes together to be merely a viscous cycle of her trying to forge a belief that the way he is attempting to deal with the heartbreaking situation isn't one of malice. However, seemingly with evidence building up against Tom, will the longevity of their marriage mean anything?
This cycle is mirrored with the other couple, only bound together with time and trauma, rather than kindness, and the deception of love actually entrapment, with some tough scenes to watch. An exquisite demonstration of character complexity is explored from each of the actors who excel in this four-hander. Instantly gaining an audience connection, in conjunction with that between them, they negotiate the challenging dark material presented with ease. The plot remains captivating throughout and you will ache for closure, whether it looks likely of not.
Alongside a compelling cast, Abi has once again demonstrated the ingenuity in her writing with Spiral, and it's certainly never the last you’ll hear of her. Between this and her previous show, Monster (also very highly regarded here, a 5 star review), her writing is the blueprint for the perfect drama, crafted with finesse. With hope, the industry breakthrough isn't far off, to give the opportunity for bigger space, and for larger audiences to experience her work.