BWW Review: LIVING A LITTLE, King's Head Theatre
In a zombie-raided Scotland, best friends Paul and Rob have found refuge in an abandoned flat. Out of luck, they managed to surround themselves with all kinds of comforts, so they've created a secure life in their sanctuary away from the horrors of the real world. But their lives are turned upside down with the arrival of Penelope, a young woman who's survived a lot more than just zombies.
Written by Finlay Bain and directed by Jordan Murphy, Living a Little is a riot from start to finish. However, it is not merely the comedy that impresses, but the well-delivered social awareness and emotional engagement.
Paul - who is described by Rob as "not gay, just really camp" - is bubbly and (over)sensitive. Thirkell's performance is fabulously humorous, with great body language and complete control of the character.
Writer Bain embodies the effervescent character's counterpart: Rob is gauche and politically incorrect, but hides a deep affection for his best friend. His unapologetic and quite brusque manners highlight Paul's sensibility and vice versa in Bain's witty script.
Touching on feminism, rape, love and death, the three characters muse on their willingness to stay alive. "What is the point of surviving if you're not going to live a little?" Paul weighs in when Penelope makes him and Paul notice that they're living in a bubble instead of preparing for the apocalypse.
The character of Penelope is crucial in narrative. She is one of the only surviving links between the two men and the outside world, the outsider, and the one who represents an intriguing and yet quite suspicious novelty in their lives. Pearl Appleby is almost an emblem of social justice, tough and resilient; she's hesitant before the amenities and relatively easy lifestyle the other two seem to have.
"You think she's a feminist because she doesn't shave!" Rob yells at Paul when he gives her razors and waxing equipment with new clothes, sparking a quick-witted exchange on stereotypical feminism and the prejudices that come with it.
Led by Murphy's clear vision for the show, the company tells an acutely hilarious and socially aware story encompassing true friendship, eccentric coping methods, and a broader reflection on humanity. Finlay Bain proves that it is possible to make a point and tell a moving story with an unpretentious and laugh-out-loud play.