It’s a battle cry for angsty over-analytical self-entitled millennials everywhere.
Eisenberg’s accuracy in capturing the cadences of moneyed malaise and pretension is remarkable. Especially considering his own demonstrable talent: starring in Hollywood blockbusters The Social Network, Louder than Bombs and Woody Allen’s Café Society, writing three Broadway plays and a novel, getting published in The New Yorker.
The Spoils sidesteps any notion of this success with a sharply satirical two-and-half-hours making comedy out of failure, anxiety and shallow stabs at creativity. It's like Woody Allen, but for the smartphone generation.
Eisenberg didn’t just write the script; he also plays asshole main character Ben with edgy energy.
The twitchy 20-something lives in a New York flat bought by his dad. He ostensibly works on ‘a new kind of art form that doesn’t yet have a name’. Actually he smokes weed, obsesses over menial moments from childhood and bullies his Nepalese housemate Kalyan (played with spark by Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar).
Kalyan has come to America for an MBA and a job in a bank. Though he’s happy making powerpoint presentations, spending time with his doctor-Valley Girl hybrid girlfriend Reshma (Annapurna Sriram) and patiently reassuring his neurotic roommate.
When Ben discovers that two old school friends are now engaged, he fixates on the bride-to-be. Of course an (unprintable) formative dream involving his middle-school crush and sexual defecation means he must be in love.
So inviting the couple to a traditional Nepalese dinner co-hosted with Kalyan and Reshma is the apt opportunity for Ben to flaunt his creative complexities.
Cue Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen, with a pitch perfect American accent and buoyant banality as ‘boring’ banker Ted, and Katie Brayben as Sarah, a sweet grown-up version of Ben's schoolboy crush.
It’s not the most action-packed plot premise, but this script bursts with the kind of probing, cringe-inducing comedy that makes you splutter with laughter.
And, at the centre, Eisenberg ricochets between infantile neediness, steely detachment and raw vulnerability with such humanity that all his deliberately annoying traits become in turn funny and moving.
|What||The Spoils, Trafalgar Studios review|
|Where||Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
27 May 16 – 13 Aug 16, 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
|Price||£45 - £103|
|Website||Click here to book via Culture Whisper and Seetickets|