Theatre Review – Unreachable

Tamara Lawrance (Natasha) and Matt Smith (Maxim) in Unreachable Matt Humphrey

The Royal Court Theatre, London
Writer: Anthony Neilson
Director: Anthony Neilson

Reviewer: Laura Shoebottom

Matt Smith plays movie director Maxim, winner of the Palme d’Or who is doing everything he can to stall the production of his latest film because he can’t find the right light. With sassy, headstrong producer Anastasia (Amanda Drew) trying to stick desperately to schedule and pandering to Maxim’s every need whilst he buries his head in the sand, Anthony Neilson’s Unreachable explores relationships, raw ambition and it’s potentially disastrous consequences. 

We are met by an almost bare stage apart from some technical equipment which is made to look like part of a film set – Chloe Lamford’s design is simple yet clever and accurate to the story and creates an engaging vibe before the action starts. 

Neilson’s laugh a minute play has been created with his cast during the rehearsal process and it continues to change during the run. They have made some extremely bold and daring decisions and the result on stage is phenomenal. 

Smith has truly encapsulated the essence of the child in an adults body for this part and every single movement right down to the last head turn is sharp and precise but is made to look so natural and fluid. The physical comedy throughout the play must be applauded – blink and you will indeed miss it.

Richard Pyros provides a wealth of comic timing as lighting cameraman and Anastasia’s secret lover Carl, he plays the struggling, hen-pecked cameraman but harbours a deep-rooted ambition for directing which could potentially ruin his relationship with Maxim.  Jonjo O’Neill has the house in stitches as lavish extrovert Ivan “The Brute” who Maxim hires in order to grind the production to a halt. O’Neill hits the ground running at top speed with extravagant outbursts of his opinions of the film and doesn’t seem to stop until the end of the play, again superb comic timing and a really volatile and unpredictable character underneath 

Genevieve Barr shines as realistic and steely finance manager Eva and Tamara Lawrance is stunning as actress Natasha who opens the show with a hard-hitting monologue from Maxim’s film but off camera shows barely any emotion at all, something that Maxim finds incomprehensible. The cast are vibrant and engaging and there is a constant figure of eight – despite the frantic nature of the piece there is never an action or a word out of place. 

The script is well written with clever nuances and relationships – even though you’ve only known these characters for five minutes you feel like you know their life story, their loves and their weaknesses. Just when you think it can’t get any better, we are stunned by a pacy yet dark second act where almost everyone’s secrets are out and the chaos reaches its climax. It all culminates in an epic ending with no holes barred on a magical set for Smith’s last scene which is accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack, composed by Nick Powell, that build and builds until the curtain comes down. 

Two hours and twenty minutes of joy, shock and sidesplitting laughter. You won’t be disappointed. 

Runs until: 6th August 2016