REVIEW: SUBLIME (Tristan Bates Theatre) ★★★

Sublime Tristan Bates Theatre

Sophie is in serious trouble and needs her brother Sam’s assistance. She has been living in Italy, and has remained out of contact with Sam for two years, but now, unexpectedly, she is back and needs to rekindle their previous criminal partnership.

Sophie walks into a dark apartment carrying a torch. When Sam returns, he is at first shocked but soon realises that the intruder is his sister. She looks around his flat and is amused by the changes that his domestic situation has caused, particularly the healthy content of their refrigerator.

Can Sophie persuade her brother, Sam, to risk sacrificing his current cosy domestic arrangements to help her? He has a good job working in insurance and has a loving partner, but she is desperate.

Sophie has just one week to carry out three scams which, she expects, will garner her sufficient money, to get her out of trouble with some very bad Corsican gangsters. So she has planned a scam against Vic, an unseen London underworld character.

Sam appears to be trying to give up his, old criminal ways and settle down with his seemingly innocent, trusting girlfriend, Clara. But he is sorely tempted to help his sister. However, whether it is the appeal of reliving their past adventures and the excitement of the heist or his familial duty as a brother to protect his sister is undefined.

Sophie is welcomed into Sam and Clara’s home because she is, after all, Sam’s younger sister. Even Clara’s father, not a great fan of Sam, is pleased that she is there, especially when she intimates to him that she has a vast source of bent vintage wines available from a mysterious and secret contact.

Clara is won over by Sophie, and does not suspect anything untoward when she innocently accepts from her the gift of (a possibly stolen), diamond ring. A ring which turns out to be more significant than you might have expected.

This play is a fast moving, tough, dark, comedy thriller. It includes surprisingly adult themes, that would never have been included in your every day Miss Marple novel. Is Sophie and Sam’s relationship incestuous? It certainly seems like it. The story also takes on some up to date topics such as neatly incorporating the recent Hatton Garden Robbery into the plot.

Throughout the play, the acting is uniformly excellent. Adele Oni plays the sassy Sophie to perfection, combining humour with delightful charismatic glamour. Michael Fatogun (Sam) flits between the sensible man in a stable relationship and the enthusiastic criminal. All the while he is full of salacious longing for his own sister, a feeling that is clearly reciprocated by Sophie.

The delightful Suzy Gill plays Clara a seemingly innocent character, pulled between her aggressive father and the charming but devious crook that is Sam.

Then there is Declan Cooke who plays Clara’s father, a hard man. Not someone to be trifled with. Declan is very convincing in the part, while never allowing the story to become too downbeat.

There is however a criticism that I should mention. The story is, in some ways, confusing. How was it that Clara’s father, who Sophie had never met, just happened to be working for Vic? Why three scams and why the one week time limit? These did all add to the tension but I felt a little cheated.

The play is well worth seeing. It is exciting and surprising. Heartedly recommended.

Reviewed by Graham Archer

Sublime plays at Tristan Bates Theatre, London until 8 April 2017