Late Company opens with Lucy Robinson’s refined Debora and politician husband Michael (Todd Boyce) preparing for a dinner party. They bicker over napkin rings and the music which is suitable for “a Mayan sacrifice”. As the guests arrive it soon becomes clear that this is no normal dinner party, and nobody but the hostess actually wants to be present.
The guests are married couple Tamara (Lisa Stevenson) and Bill (Alex Lowe) and their teenage son Curtis (David Leopold). They arrive late because they’d argued as to whether to come at all, and the sense of discomfort is palpable.
The five characters sit around a table set with six places, with Debora and Michael’s son Joel conspicuously absent. The action revolves around that table, and slowly the tragic story behind Joel’s absence is told. The characters have joined together at Debora’s request to try and seek some peace and closure, but Debora’s pain is so raw and her anger so white hot that it seems like it will burn everyone in the room, and at times it is not clear whether it is actually closure she is seeking or a chance for vengeance.
The families argue over how much Curtis, and by extension his family, can be held responsible for events that occurred. In the midst there are clashes over how to parent, how to mourn and class differences. The host family are educated, refined, used to making political speeches and framing arguments. The visiting family portrayed as more working class, “hockey parents”, and Curtis as the typical high school jock.
Late Company shines a glaring light on bullying, homophobia, and the double lives that teenagers lead. Its characters are likeable and unlikeable in equal measure, and it avoids the easy answers of casting a hero and a villain.
It is a hard play to watch at times. The Finborough Theatre is a tiny venue, and actors are close enough to touch. The viewer is sitting in the dining room every bit as much as the two families adding to a feeling of being trapped in a world of grief and guilt. However it is not a play of unrelenting doom, although there are some teary moments, there is a sense throughout that while not guaranteed peace is possible.
While the actors are British they play Canadian characters with Canadian accents, dropping “ay” and “aboot” liberally. Joel’s presence in the play is through photographs and Youtube videos that the audience doesn’t get to see, although the characters do, which is a shame and I’d have liked to have seen them perhaps projected on the wall.
The play is over an hour long with no interval, and it kept my attention throughout, and stayed with me long enough to want to discuss it afterwards. Whilst not an upbeat evening it was a thought-provoking and powerful play that stayed with me. It’s having a short run at a small theatre so tickets are limited and likely to go fast.
Late Company is part of the Finborough Theatre’s celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday. Written by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, “the hottest name in Canadian theatre”, and starring Todd Boyce (Michael), David Leopold (Curtis), Alex Lowe (Bill), Lucy Robinson (Debora) and Lisa Stevenson (Tamara). Production directed by Michael Yale, with set and costumes by Zahra Mansouri, lighting by Nic Farman and sound by Chris Prosho.
Reporter: Cora May
Late Company, at the Finborough Theatre is running for a strictly limited season from 25 April – 20 May 2017.
Performances: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm & Saturday – Sunday at 3.00pm
Ticket Prices until 7 May – Tickets £16, £14 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £14 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £16 all seats. Previews (25 and 26 April) £12 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30’s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£12 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 29 April 2017 when booked online only.
Prices from 9 May – Tickets £18, £16 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Group Bookings – 1 free ticket for every 10 tickets booked.
Address: Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London, SW10 9ED
Box Office: 0844 847 1652
Facebook: @Late Company