Sheep - Theatre Review

Dexy hasn't slept for 21 days. His girlfriend Anna is missing and there's a bunch of his slightly odd friends and acquaintances traipsing through his flat, including a mysterious woman who is always on the street outside. David Cantor, writer for such television shows as My Family and Two Pints of Lager and Packet of Crisps, brings us Sheep - a slightly bonkers stage play loaded with witty one liners.

The story is delightfully odd and veers from familiar comedy fun, to slightly menacing confusion. And even though it plays out as expected on the whole, there's still lots to enjoy and plenty to discuss at the close. Dexy played by a watchable Ciaran Lonsdale, staggers from mild annoyance to furious incoherence and Lonsdale makes it fascinating to watch Dexy unravel the threads of the mystery around him. You can really see the cogs turning, particularly when he begins to suspect his frequent visitors might not be his friends after all...

James Groom as Dexy’s hedonist ‘friend’ Leo is utterly mesmerising, a neon Adam Ant with ten times the sex appeal. Whether he's strutting round the room licking class A drugs off a liquorice stick, or ranting conspiracy theories at Dexy with a glint in his eye, Groom holds the audience in his hand. The character is a real Puck-ish delight who the audience can't help but love, and Cantor gives this character many of the best lines of the show.

Conversely, there's the ‘most boring man in Britain’ Vic (Bruce Kitchener), a night bus driver who loves good cuppa and a board game and uses Dexy’s flat to enjoy both. There's a nice interplay between Lonsdale and Kitchener and he's a welcome and warm respite from the relative chaos.

It's a shame that one of the two female characters, Margot (an enigmatic Niamh Watson) is reduced to a very literal whore/mother archetype, and it's not completely clear whether this trope is being satirised or being perpetuated. There's a logic behind her revelation but it leaves the character somewhat wanting, which is a shame as Watson gives a measured and intriguing performance.

Director Georgia Leanne Harris has used the sometimes tricky White Bear space to good effect, and has done well to ensure the stage does not feel over-crowded particularly when Dexy and his ‘friends’ are joined by the fiery Suarez (Beatrice Cranke) and Caprini (AJ Jenks) for the multi-layered denouement.

Sunny Smith’s set is simple, but effective, thick white lines surrounding furniture like dead bodies, and paint splashes at the ‘windows’ echoing the light pollution of London. This, coupled with endless police sirens and an enjoyable soundtrack of familiar pop and rock only add to the dream like state of the piece.

There's lots to uncover and mull over with Sheep and it's definitely not short of some genuinely funny moments. There is perhaps room for some development, particularly in the pacing of Dexy’s revelations, but it proves an intriguing and entertaining piece overall.

18th July, 2017 – 5th August, 2017

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