REVIEW: PHOEBE (Kings Head Theatre) ★★★★

imagePhoebe, a new play by A.C. Smith, is showing as part of Festival 46, the King’s Head’s annual celebration of new writing. George Smith directs as his showcase performance for the King’s Head Theatre’s Directing Programme. The play has been shortlisted for the King’s Head Theatre’s Adrian Pagan Award, as well as the Verity Bargate Award.

Phoebe is a young woman trying to make sense of the world around her. Through a series of short scenes, Phoebe interacts with her neighbours, family and a regular visitor to the optician where she works. Each conversation makes us reconsider our assumptions about the characters. We realise that Phoebe sees the world around her differently; her beloved brother is missing yet her sister and parents seem unconcerned. Her neighbours are lobbying the local council to cull the urban fox she has been feeding. Why is it that Paul just can’t find the right pair of glasses?

EJ Martin plays Phoebe and is on stage for most of the time, even moving the set between scenes. She is convincing as the confused and harassed young woman, trying to do the right thing. The emotion of her relationship with her absent brother and the fox who she gives the same name to keeps the story together and makes us care where it ends.

She is ably supported by Loz Keystone and Louise Torres-Ryan who play all the other characters with slight changes of costume and accents. Keystone is especially impressive as he switches between very different roles as Phoebe’s father, her customer and the pest controller.

This is a well written short play with a strong cast that works well in the small space at the King’s Head Theatre. It is a deserving inclusion in Festival 46.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans