VENDETTA – Johnny O’Hanlon (Now You Know Productions Scratch Card 2) ★★★☆☆

Vendetta offers an intriguing concept which is sharply relevant in so called ‘compo culture’. With more focussed direction the piece would better deliver the chilling conclusion cleverly constructed by writer and director Johnny O’Hanlon.

We meet Richards and learn he has been left disabled after being injured in a hit and run incident, with Ryan Lane giving a convincing portrayal of a man who has lost everything. He encounters Laurence Lloyd as Jenkins, the man who cause the fateful accident. The narrative then plays out over six separate scenes that jump from present to past, and the three actors never once share the stage together. The non-chronological timeline keeps the piece interesting as the audience try to work out which of the three characters will be most successful in their individual vendettas.

 
We eventually meet Evans played by Kate Watson, who interacts with both of the other characters separately. Despite her obvious kind nature, she is duplicitous in who her loyalties lie with. Watson brings much needed lightness to the piece, elevating the effectively built tension.

 
However, an occasional lack of energy from the other two actors means that the piece often falls flat, and the chilling classical music played between scenes is necessary to bring the atmosphere back to the piece. I also found that the cast didn’t know enough about the flat that the scene was set in – for example, the doorway seemed to move in direction. When playing on a bare stage, the audience rely on the director to bring some sense of place to the action, and this is something which Johnny O’Hanlon could work on.

 
Vendetta manages to juggle its complex story line well, and the characters’ true motives are revealed at the optimum moment. Richards bitter disgust for those more privileged than him was handled with enough subtlety – while we sympathise with him, his actions are never excused by the writer but simply presented with truthfulness. With a little more pace between the actors, the chilling conclusion and clever reveal would create more of an impact.

 

★★★☆☆

LAURA ELLIS

 

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