Review: If. Destroyed. Still. True, at Hope Theatre

Absorbing debut about friends grappling with race and class makes Jack Condon one to watch out for

Thursday, 5th May — By Emily Finch


Theo Ancient and Jack Condon in If. Destroyed. Still. True. Photo: Alex Brenner

JACK Condon’s absorbing debut about race and class is another roaring success for the Hope Theatre who continue to live up to their strapline of being the “little theatre with big ideas”.

We first meet John (Condon), a depressed 20-something, on the edge of a rundown seaside town as he reconnects with his schoolfriend James (Theo Ancient). James has moved on, spiritually and physically, from his hometown – he’s at university, joined the badminton club and is no longer a fan of daytime drinking.

To hammer home the point, he’s got a new university girlfriend called Charlotte (Whitney Kehinde) who doesn’t approve of John’s casual misogyny and unintended racism.

From the trio’s initial meeting, the rift deepens as the years pass and John grapples with alcoholism and declining mental health.

Meanwhile, James finds stability in his life as he marries Charlotte and becomes a teacher who aims to help kids from poor backgrounds. His admission that he wants to help kids like him leads to a barrage of scorn from John who begins to wonder if he’s still a friend or a lost cause.

There’s a lot to unpack, but 70 minutes fly by thanks to the realistic dialogue and well-timed waves of tension.

Set and costume designer Anna Kelsey hasn’t skimped on the detail in her rickety seaside promenade. Lighting designer Gabriel Finn’s coiled ceiling lights is another highlight and could have been utilised more.

Some parts of the staging and elements of the plot, especially towards the end, become quite predictable. Issues surrounding race, when it comes to Charlotte’s backstory, seem shoehorned in and should have been expanded or avoided.

There were a few obvious opportunities where the play could have been more daring, but Condon proves himself someone to watch out for.

Until May 14

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