Review: Victorian In The Wall (Royal Court Theatre)

Fans of the turn-of-the-millennium cult comedy series Spaced should prick up their ears. No, there’s no further episodes (unfortunately) or US remake (fortunately) but new play Victorian In The Wall will fill that yearning nicely, thank you.

The Royal Court is an auspicious place for writer and co-director Will Adamsdale. In 2004, he nabbed the top Edinburgh comedy award back in 2004 when it was sponsored by something you could see yourself drinking while sober, beating current comedy luminaries The Thick Of It’s Chris Addison and the FA’s bête noire Reginald D Hunter. Later, Adamsdale turned the winning show Jackson’s Way into a 26-stop London tour he called a “Jacksathon”.

And, yes, one of those venues was the Royal Court, a theatre which once housed the brave and brilliant Clybourne Park before it attracted a West End move and an Olivier award. Like that play, Victorian In The Wall toys with the traditional concepts of theatre, coming across like a bottle episode of Spaced played to Dogme rules and with scant regard for the fourth wall.

The central character Guy, played by Adamsdale, is a slacker writer too easily distracted by neighbourhood dogs, boxsets of The Wire, his guitar and anything really. Guy’s future relationship with his ambitious girlfriend (the superb Melanie Wilson), and the plot itself, hangs on the success of some building works that he is charge of while she is abroad working.

The play sticks to elements of the Dogme 95 film rules with rooms of the flat itself laid out in a similar fashion to the set of Dogville and all sounds and songs played live by the cast. The storyline veers from the frankly surreal to Frank Spencer-inspired calamity and crosses time and space from within the confines of the flat.

A production not short on laughs, heart and invention as well as quality turns from all involved, it tries to cram too much into its 90 minute length and suffers from an all-too-brief denouement and a fair number of loose ends. To be continued?

Victorian In The Wall continues at the Royal Court Theatre until 8 June. More information can be found here.

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