Review: Married teacher's life torn apart by 'false' allegations at Abbey Theatre in Alligators
PUBLISHED: 15:21 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:02 31 January 2020
Madeleine Burton reviews Company of Ten's production of Alligators at the Abbey Theatre Studio in St Albans.
Alligators swim in murky waters and they don't come much murkier than those at the heart of the latest production by the Company of Ten.
Billed as a searing new thriller by Andrew Keatley, Alligators is more of a gruelling insight into the impact of an underage sexual assault claim on the family of the accused.
It is a subject that could not be more topical in light of allegations made against the likes of the high-profile victims of the fantasist 'Nick'.
But what makes this play so clever is that sufficient grounds are planted for the audience to be uncertain of the veracity of protagonist Daniel Turner, a married teacher and father of two.
And as more details are revealed about his lifestyle, doubts start to emerge over whether he is a victim or to a certain extent, the author of his own misfortune.
Not that those misgivings detract from the anguish of his family, wife Sally and seven-year-old daughter Genevieve, from whom the title Alligators comes after she hears her parents talking about allegations.
Director Tim Hoyle takes this Kafka-esque play and brings it to life in the Abbey Theatre Studio.
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It is perfect for theatre in the round as it draws in the audience as Daniel's family life disintegrates.
As the pivotal character, Daniel, Matt Hughes-Short is a revelation.
Having last seen him in the Company of Ten's hilarious production of Ben Hur, he demonstrates his versatility in a play that could not be more different.
He exhibits a range of emotions from fear and anger to despair in a performance that reaches its zenith as he learns in the middle of a game of Snakes and Ladders with his daughter that a national newspaper has carried a story about the allegations.
Despite trying to continue to act normally, he cannot and that short scene sums up the impact on his family more than anything else.
Katherine Steed grows into the role of his wife Sally, matching Matt in emotion by the end, but Abbe Waghorn as solicitor Rachel Horne struggled to make her presence felt in what could have been first night nerves on Friday.
Make no mistake about it, this is no easy play in which to appear and that makes the performance of Olivia Lunt as Daniel's daughter Genevieve, a role she shares with Darcy Jones and Katie Kohler on other nights, quite remarkable.
Alligators can be seen at the Abbey Theatre Studio until Saturday, February 1 with performances at 8pm.
Tickets cost £13 and concessions £12.
Visit www.abbeytheatre.org.uk to book tickets or call the box office on 01727 85786.