Having an instantly recognisable title may have given this performance higher expectations than can be achieved, and regrettably this was the case for ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ at The New Theatre.
The play centres on Tom Ripley, a disturbing and intriguing individual who is sent on a mission to find a couple’s wayward son. From meeting Richard Greenleaf, Tom develops a sinister, obsessive relationship, based upon a set of lies that are bound to go awry. As the plot unfolds you are left wondering: do you know who your friends are, are you being manipulated and who can you really trust?
The show was stolen by Katrina Holloway whose portrayal of Marge Sherwood, Richard’s shrewd girlfriend, was utterly believable, connecting with the audience, who truly believe and empathise with the character. Nick Hughes provided a much needed breath of fresh air in his successful depiction of the comedic characters: Fausto and Silvio, who lifted the heavy dramatic atmosphere and the somewhat dull moments. Weston Twardowski gave an inconsistent performance as Tom Ripley; although his chilling monologues managed to convey the dark nature of his character. Simon Peal understandably struggled with the delivery of his cheesy lines, resulting with collective cringing and awkward laughter.
Unfortunately, the chemistry between the characters was lacking, particularly in the passionate, climactic scene, which called for more red blood. Their stiff performances were somewhat salvaged by the whole cast’s impressive regional accents, and captivating monologues.
The dramatic scenes were helpfully heightened by the music behind the performance, although I was left to wonder whether if without it there would be any intensity at all? This device quickly became overused and the constant stream of repetitive music becoming irritating long before the end of the show.
The simple staging provided everything that was needed. The use of water on the set was particularly effective, even if it could be composed solely by the tears of otherwise disenchanted audience members. However, it did manage to convey a sense of place, both geographically and thematically.
Perhaps the simplicity of the set would have better served other aspects of the performance. At times the desire to be edgy appeared to add to the confusion of the already complex plot. For instance, having multiple characters recount an event simultaneously might have seemed an effective way to show the opposing sides of different characters, but was instead rather distracting and confusing.
Looking back at my night at The New Theatre, I don’t feel that it was the best that it could have been. However, please feel free to make your own decision, but when deciding on these snowy nights whether it is worth the pneumonia ask yourself one question: is the heating on in your student house? If not it might be worth it.