Wildefire Is A Small Screen Cop Drama That Struggles On Stage

By Stuart Black Last edited 49 months ago
Wildefire Is A Small Screen Cop Drama That Struggles On Stage ★★☆☆☆ 2

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Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The best thing about the theatre is that you're not watching TV; a notion the Hampstead Theatre neatly subverts with its latest production, Wildefire.

This teetering tower of televisual cliches is a by-the-book police procedural that feels like three average episodes of The Bill from about 1994 clumsily stitched together. Roy Williams' moribund script has the air of a pilot that's been doing the rounds, serially rejected as both over-familiar and cynically dumbed down. The title, for example, derives from the name of its protagonist PC Wilde (yes, really), an eager hotshot who's keeping a lid on it — just — but who, you can bet your badge, is gonna have to turn a bit fiery before the show is over.

The only twist is that Wilde is a woman, except this isn't a twist because we can name about 50 other beleaguered female cops — all of them more credible than her. The essential problem here is that there's no research on show and the characters who surround Wilde — the surly superiors, feral hoodies and battered wives — all behave exactly as you'd expect if you'd been brought up on a diet of cheap, commercial TV (it's a very rare plot point that feels like it's come from anything like life).

The cast is fine, which is why we won't mention their names — they are all much better than this. It's a shame because they probably could have workshopped a far better story. It wouldn't have taken much to switch off the telly and step outside and at least try to take the temperature of modern policing. As it stands though, Wildefire brings approximately nothing new to the table.

Wildefire is on at the Hampstead Theatre until 29 November. Tickets cost £15-32. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 14 November 2014