Sandy Pritchard-Gordon

Sandy Pritchard-Gordon
Theatre Blog

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Same Deep Water As Me at The Donmar

Nick Payne’s wonderful Olivier Award winning play, Constellations, was one of the reasons I booked to see his latest offering and, although The Same Deep Water As Me isn’t as complex structurally, or as clever, it is very amusing.

It centres around an airless and soulless office in Luton belonging to Scorpion Claims, a personal injury legal firm.  Andrew (Daniel Mays), a solicitor in his thirties who has left London under a cloud, works here for the good-hearted Barry (Nigel Lindsay).  Everything points to the fact that they’re not inundated with work, so when Andrew’s old potty mouthed school friend, Kevin (Marc Wootton) turns up offering a get rich quick route of making claims for scam crashes, he is easily persuaded to take it.  Barry, the honest plodder with more interest in visits to Greggs and trying his hand at scratch cards, is less inclined to enter into the fraudulent goings on but succumbs nevertheless, well he kind of has to!  The original scam results in a visit to the courtroom when the witnesses who are so obviously lying somehow manage to convince the judge (a very witty, Peter Forbes) that they’re not.  How can a judge be so naive?

If Nick Payne is highlighting the serious issue of the “no win, no fee” compensation culture, which he has obviously carefully researched, the play doesn’t quite hit the message home hard enough. Plus the play’s outcome both legally and emotionally isn’t particularly plausible. However as a piece of theatre, providing brilliantly witty one-liners and an excellent cast, The Same Deep Water, hits the nail bang on the head.

Much of the hilarity emanates from the “fucking this, fucking that” yobbo, Kevin.  Marc Wootton’s comic physicality softens Kevin’s unrelenting use of the “f” word and such is Nick Payne’s skill at natural dialogue that his speech patterns never seem contrived.  The always excellent Daniel Mays says so much when he’s saying nothing at all.  This is especially true when his character is unable to admit lying to the patriarchal Barry; the guilt is etched all over his malleable face.  Kevin’s wife, Jennifer a nervy, simple soul is very well brought to life by Niky Wardly and Nick Payne’s brilliant one-liners are highlighted when she comes out with, “I feel like I’ve been caught wanking at the vets“.  Another cast member well worth a mention is Isabella Laughland, as the Tesco’s van driver blamed for the accident; she is definitely one young actress to watch out for.

Roll on Nick Payne’s next offering.

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