Final Verdict

A good play that is well worth a watch and gets you thinking as to how our perceptions through life experience determine how we view situations for right or wrong and i guess determines what we feel acceptable and not.

FLINCH – Old Red Lion Theatre Review

So whilst not realising the date of press night clashing with the Europa League Final i proceeded to the Old Red Lion Pub & Theatre to see a performance of Flinch. Written by Emma Hemingford.

A cast of three people, and a stage set up to reflect the kitchen/dining area of a flat. The table cleverly positioned so half was at full length and the other shortened on the raised stage..Visual effect or sub meaning i’m not exactly sure.

The lights go dark to reflect the start. Then raise when a man brandishing a banana comes rushing out like a madman. Shouting and screaming pointing the banana around like a gun. A crazy and frantic start to a play if i have ever seen. This however was to depict the event the whole play revolves centrally on.

Jess (Emma Hemingford) has recently moved in with her boyfriend Mark (Jospeh Reed), an actress she seeks work in London but to no success. A trader by day Mark has a boring job but one that pays the way.

On the first night together they go to a play. Upon returning we see Mark talking about his dislike of plays and wanting a night cap. A nervous and frantic Jess hesitantly attempts to start a conversation about an incident on the way home, without wanting to make an issue but making an issue by not making an issue (which was two mins of brilliant acting – as we have all felt weird about initiating awkward conversation or topics at some point). Jess wants to know why Mark ran when she was ‘attacked’ by robber with a banana.

Ali Wright

In a single moment perceptions are changed and different views on what happened appear. We find out that the robber attacks Jess waving the banana grabbing her neck also. We come to know Mark hesitates and runs (to get help). Jess was scared and feels James instincts should first and foremost been to have tried to protect her. Mark defends himself in saying he only ran once he realised in the split second she was safe, she is left to think he doesn’t care.

The play goes on to see the relationship and its fractures that appear or become exaggerated since the incident. Could they come together or had the incident and subsequent thoughts of each other be able to heal? Are Jess’ thoughts and interpretation of the incident all to do with her upbringing and perception of life? The way she views people and what she perceives they want –  may be why reacted that way. Or was she correct in her thinking?

Mark unknowing to these early life experiences views it differently, he saw the practical joke in the situation. He takes care of Jess in his own way. Maybe not the primal being that jumps at a would be attacker but in ways to make sure that while Jess searches for work she wants for nothing. His only wrongdoing is keeping this too himself. However i did see a perceived hold over Jess that it could be taken as, moments of jealousy also had me thinking that he wanted Jess for himself and by doing so offered a version that rather than looking out for and caring he was controlling.

Ali WrightBoth lead actors gave brilliant performances. Emma having written the play obviously had a deep understanding of her character and played it brilliantly. Her emotion, actions and reactions had me believing in her totally. Joseph Reed also plays the leading man well. A man almost unaware of what he may have done wrong, wishing to try and get things on track he too showed emotion well.

Their most passionate moments were driven by the attack. With scenes including the robber showing us the two fed the emotion from the incident into their relationship. At times it was almost like Jess thrived on it, the pure sexual attention. The masculinity that appeared to be missing from Mark.

I have to now mention Andrew Armitage – not a word to speak in the play. Yet made one of the biggest impressions not only on the story line and subsequent actions of these two lead characters. His portrayal of the mugger in an almost abstract way at the start and scenes later on interlinking with the leads to represent other scenes reminiscent in flashback moments was fantastic.

Ali Wright
Ali Wright
Ali Wright
Ali Wright

In a time of #MeToo it reminds me that a males  perspective of an incident can be very different to that of a females. Wether however it is right or wrong is another question and dictated by the situation. I obviously do not condone assault of any kind on either men or women.

Even at the end i personally was unsure on how to view the incident. Which also leaves me a little uncomfortable in terms of what my perception would also have been…Assualt or Banter? Jess attempts to explain to Mark her view on it all at the end of the play but he refuses to listen or take the time too.

A good play that is well worth a watch and gets you thinking as to how our perceptions through life experience determine how we view situations for right or wrong and i guess determines what we feel acceptable and not.


Age guidance: 14+ (Contains adult themes, including references to sex and mild swearing)

Running time: 75 mins approx.

Tuesday 28th May – Saturday 15th June 2019
Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm


For further ticket information please click here or call 0333 012 4963 for all booking enquiries.

Thanks for reading,

Aaron Whittington

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