Nottingham Lace Market
Staged in the bijou and intimate upstairs space, "Damages" written by Steve Thompson is another one of those little gems of a play that the Lace Market Theatre are so good at finding and staging.And what a little sparkler this one is! It has been a while since I have had the pleasure of watching a play that gives you that "eureka" moment when you get the gist of what the previous sections were actually building up to.It will draw you in and have you eager for the outcome, like unwrapping a parcel in pass the parcel, stripping away the layers to get the eventual goodie at the finale.
Played out in real time,"Damages" is about a newspaper steaming towards its' deadline and the night editor and the journalists deciding which story to run, and especially the front page "splash". They then receive a picture of a topless children's TV star which is guaranteed to be a media smash. But all is not as it first seems and the private, and not so private revelations, after this supposed exclusive are as lascivious as the proposed news story. Good job that they have Abigail, the "legal eagle" on hand to advise, now isn't it?
What an amazingly good cast!
Howard, played by Ian Bennett, is the more than dedicated editor in charge, proof reader, and the calmest of the newspaper staff, staying way past his timeline to make sure the job gets done. Old fashioned and reliable and a complete opposite to the other characters working for the paper.Ian has some great facial expressions, some that show that an expression can replace any number of words in the script. He's likeable even though at first he comes across as Mr Grumpy, this exterior softens with the appearance of Abigail, and he becomes the equivalent of your favourite elder uncle.
Abigail, the legal saviour of the play is played oh so stylishly and knowledgeably by Emma Nash.Bringing sexy back to the legal side of the newspaper, in more ways than one as we discover that that legal advice was not the only thing that Abigail dished out. The recipient of her additional expertise being presented, in the not too distant past, to the "newbie" night editor, Baz, played by Chris Moseley.
Chris plays Baz as the, possibly over eager and hungry to reach the top, Baz. the good looking office person who is always a hit with the ladies, including Abigail, which via this airing of their dirty laundry, exposes something that he may have wished had not been forced into the open, but needing to be revealed for the sake of the story that Lister is adamant on running.
And finally there is Lister, trying to keep the baying of Baz's hunger at bay. There is a really explosive scene which involves Lister really losing it with Baz which is an absolutely brilliantly emotive and explosive part of the play, and is also an excuse for some more revelations from Lister's past. Jason Wrightam plays Lister with fire and in these close surroundings you can feel that fire directed at Baz and you're able to see the veins standing to attention in Jason/Lister's facial expressions.
Each of the four characters will evoke an emotion from you and all are the kind you will find in any high flying and deadline driven environment. Utterly believable and all quite likeable in their own way.
A fascinating play with plenty of laughs, due to the excellent one liners, but is also a play which challenges morality and also provides the viewer with an inside to the newspaper business and its' cut throat behind the scenes actions,and also the legal side of the media, so educational as well as very very entertaining.
"Damages" is on at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 20 September 2014.