Review Roundup: THE SAME DEEP WATER AS ME at Donmar Warehouse
Nick Payne won last year's Evening Standard Award for Best New Play for Constellations. John Crowleyreturns to the Donmar to direct Payne's witty and incisive new play. Had an accident at work? Tripped on a paving slab? Cut yourself shaving? You could be entitled to compensation. Andrew and Barry at Scorpion Claims, Luton's finest personal injury lawyers, are the men for you. When Kevin, Andrew's high school nemesis, appears in his office the opportunity for a quick win arises. But just how fast does a lie have to spin before it gets out of control?
The cast includes: Monica Dolan (playing Anne Gunn & Georgina Burns), Peter Forbes (playing Guy Haines& Judge Eppleton), Joanna Griffin (playing Terri & Attendant), Isabella Laughland (playing Isabella), Nigel Lindsay (playing Barry Paterson), Daniel Mays (playing Andrew Eagleman), Niky Wardley (playing Jennifer Needleman), and Marc Wootton (playing Kevin Needleman). For more information please visit donmarwarehouse.com/barclaysfrontrow.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph: Director John Crowley does what he can for this lame duck of a play, and the performances are often excellent. Daniel Mays is memorably dark and devious as Andrew, Nigel Lindsay brings a battered decency to the stage as his colleague and Marc Wootton presents us with the authentic face of slobbish, greedy Britain as the chief fraudster.
Henry Hitchings Evening Standard: Aside from the weak closing scene, this is an assured offering from a playwright who combines shrewd observation with an ability to make us squirm. He's well served by director John Crowley. But it is Payne's gift for characterisation and funny, unsettling images that impresses most.
Michael Billington, Guardian: Part of the charm of the play is how it takes us into a world we don't often see on stage: not just of contrived accidents and civil cases conducted on a no-win, no-fee basis, but also of people struggling to make a living. Far from being large-scale rogues, the two solicitors here are recognisably human: the fundamentally decent Barry has both a conscience and a recondite passion for exotic brands of tea, while Andrew is an easily bullied figure who lost his school girlfriend to Kevin and is quickly suckered into supporting a string of fraudulent claims. Even if there is a glaring implausibility in the resolution of the court case, John Crowley's production rightly presents it as a play about people living on The Edge of desperation. There are also immaculate performances from Daniel Mays as the nervy, quixotic Andrew, Nigel Lindsay as the life-bruisEd Barry, Marc Wootton as the thuggish claimant, and Monica Dolan doubling hilariously as an anecdotal cabbie and a power-dressed lawyer whose very soul seems to be well-ironed.
Griselda MurRay Brown, Financial Times: The Same Deep Water As Me is, for the most part, hugely enjoyable. The cast is superb, and director John Crowley matches Payne's verbal wit with plenty of inspired visual gags. If anything, the play is a victim of its own ambition: full of sharp observations of social mores, yet not content to be a mere comedy of manners.
Paul Taylor, Independent: John Crowley's wonderfully engaging cast make the most of the quirky humour, though this occasionally feels like padding, and do their best to disguise the fact that one or two of the key relationships are underwritten. Mays' Andrew is a compellingly uneasy chancer, with a trouble background, but the character's ethical differences with Barry are left somewhat out-of-focus as he persists in his hurtful pretence of innocence, while the climactic confrontation with Jennifer (Niky Wardley), his first love who agonisingly married the odious Kevin, comes across as a belated acknowledgement that there's been a shortage of emotional substance. The piece is at once diverting and a tad disappointing.
Theo Bosanquet, Whatsonstage: For all its enjoyability I question whether The Same Deep Water As Me will stand the test of time. It feels a touch too light, ephemeral even, and for all its highlighting of the unique cultural phenomenon of 'no win, no fee', it never really gets to the root of what has got our society into such deep water in the first place.