Wednesday, 8 October 2014

'The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith' Old Red Lion Theatre ***

Some people appear to develop a mid-life crisis a lot earlier than expected, especially when corruption is at the forefront of their life at its current state. The intimate Old Red Lion Theatre presents hopeful playwright, Miran Hadzic’s ‘The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith’, and one thought it needed additional flair in certain aspects. ‘The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith’ is set within the demanding and economical London, where venomous businesswoman, Janet Sullivan and her most favoured employee , the somewhat humble Ridley Smith have just secured a multi-million pound deal, which inevitably forces an associate to commit suicide. Alternatively, when Ridley encounters street artist, Freddy the morning after he and Janet celebrate in a disreputable table dancing club, he gives the impression that he admires Freddy’s practice, as well as perceiving he is a vagrant. This is completely untrue and once Ridley’s melancholy advances, he contemplates changing his career path to become an artist. His employer when Ridley wants to resign and pursue a bemused path, she knowingly realises his mental upset, and exclaims that he's never going to be successful in his quest. Ridley, Freddy and Sylvie, the table dancer from the club decide to escape from the competitive London environment, to an empty barn in the countryside so that Ridley can concentrate on developing his sketching skills, which leave a lot to be desired. Obviously Ridley becomes aggravated, and childishly destroys a splendid portrait that Freddy has crafted of the effervescent Sylvie. Of course the consequences of such actions are catastrophic, and Freddy, and as such, the two of them reject him, and return to their beloved city London. When Ridley meets up with Janet, it appears that Freddy has sexually assaulted her, and he has been lying to Ridley’s face, and using him as a sort of pawn. Hadzic’s narrative is of an adequate standard, and one finds the story progressed too rapidly. The performances by the company of ‘The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith’ were immensely tolerable. Tom Machell is congenial as the central protagonist, Ridley Smith as he conveys a distressed businessman who is depressed with his life, and his childish approach was exceedingly intriguing. Stuart Lockwood is charming as the street artist Freddy. One liked his defensive nature when Ridley desires to see his drawing of the building where Wrigley works, and his vocal work was spectacular. Lottie Vallis is wondrous as the raunchy table dancer Sylvie, in particular when we witness her talents exude at the point where she teaches Freddy a basic Ballroom Waltz, and a somewhat romance blossoms through this tender moment. Katharine Armitage’s direction is amazingly delightful here as she's been able to instil a fraught and saddening story of a young man who's despondent with both his professional and personal life, as well as understanding the beauty of art and its process. Georgia de Grey’s set and costume designs were predictable. Paradoxically, one valued the distasteful atmosphere that it extruded through the vindictive world of business. Overall, one found the experience of ‘The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith’ to be of an acceptable standard.

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