A tiny underground theatre that is part of the lovely pub upstairs, this intimate setting is the perfect location for a piece with the subheading: "a horrifying play of a psychological and physical test". However, plays that don't deliver are slightly excruciating at such close proximity, and this was close to being so.
Unsurprisingly, it's about an audition, where for the duration of the piece a young, spirited girl is grilled by the director of a play we never learn any more about. For those in the audience with experience in auditioning, the play might strike a chord; for those who don’t, be warned that the play is about little else. The director commands and manipulates the girl throughout, going through training techniques and provoking her to reveal intimate childhood traumas, to believe she is part of a scam, to take coke and heroin, take off all her clothes and play Russian roulette. While specifically about theatre, the play portrays the extent to what a person is prepared to do for those in a position of power.
This hierarchy is only credible if actor playing the director is truly convincing, and here the play is lacking. The actress had a very distracting Russian accent, kept stumbling over her words, and exuded absolutely no sense of power at all, a point which the entire play hinges on.
The girl played by Victoria Tyrrell, was bright, fresh, and carried the play through from start to finish. Her rollercoaster of emotions during the piece showed off the spectrum of her abilities, and it's certainly a testament to her to be able to act the weaker character when she's the stronger actress.
So while the play doesn’t quite live up to its "horrifying" promise, the journey is still an interesting one, and there are plenty of chuckles and moments of suspense to see you through.
The Audition is at Baron’s Court Theatre, The Curtains Up Pub, 28a Comeragh Rd, London, W14 9HR until 10 Feb. Tickets are £12, £10 concs. Visit offwestend.com for more information.
By Tamara Vos