THEATRE REVIEW: Beginning ★★★★
National Theatre, London
Saturday 21st October 2017
In what is set in a mess of a flat following a ‘Home Sweet Home’ warming party, as the banner suggests on the mirror, Laura (Justine Mitchell) and Danny (Sam Troughton) are alone. We are told that throughout the night, Danny, who is Keith’s friend, has been eyeing up Laura, and the feeling and actions were mutual vise versa. Both though have a past of horrendous relationships, and over this beautiful hour and a half production from playwright David Eldridge, we are invited to listen as we feel the chemistry between the two characters escalate with surprising consequences, which might make you as an audience member view dating differently after watching the production.
Justine Mitchell and Sam Troughton are are real delight to watch on stage. As watching from the front row, I felt very connected to the characters, and as a two-hander piece of theatre, I have never seen anything on this scale. Though the stage is cluttered, which could lead your eyes to wander away from the action, I couldn’t help but continue to be transfixed by the performances that were filling the whole stage with huge presence. As the production progresses, you can see both Mitchell and Troughton really giving the script it's all it’s worth as they have fun bouncing off each other, and by the climax of the play, you feel you have shared a journey with two characters who were once strangers before the evening’s events took place. The silences between text were handled with so much care that you could genuinely feel the awkwardness between the two characters, and that’s just another reason to praise the creative team, especially Eldridge’s genuinely outright funny, and poignant creation.
I felt so passionate towards the speech that was coming from the characters also mainly because it was relatable; Eldridge writes so beautifully with realness to everything that is spoken, that it makes the whole thing feel like the genuine and not scripted; you can imagine this scenario happening so often in real life. The point that hit most was the conversation which they spoke how getting to the age that they were, it was hard to find someone in clubs or bars, and settling for someone through friends or at work seemed to be their only option; the characters laid out all their flaws in front of each other, and that made me as an audience member genuinely feel for the couple.
Overall, Beginning is a relatable and intriguing look into the dating scene with two strangers who wish to be together but first must overcome their past habits to move forward; a real triumph of theatre!