Leah is a film producer on a mission. She must get a big name on board for her latest project – the romantic comedy/terrorist thriller/action movie/passionate love story Mohammad and Me.
The Thick of It actress Olivia Poulet is hilarious and utterly charming as producer Leah, who embarks upon a monologue addressed to an unseen character. It's clear she knows the script is shoddy yet, ever the consummate professional, she hammers home her pitch – an effort made even more futile by the fact that she is alone on stage, literally pitching to thin air. Her tone is certainly impassioned but some more desperate persuasion tactics make are bluntly funny:
"It's a three dimensional character, I'd love to see you play a three dimensional again” she implores, trying to charm the actor into taking part.
Playwright Mark Ravenhill is not known for shying away from controversial subject matter; a master of the art of black comedy, his bread and butter material is violence, sexuality and consumerism, and all three align sharply in Product.
While the subject matter of Ravenhill's script may have packed more of a punch when it premièred in 2005, thanks to a stellar performance from Poulet it still feels relevant, and one only has to look at the Oscar nominated film American Sniper to see that Hollywood is still exploiting public fear of terrorism for its own ends.
Product is billed as “Ravenhill versus Hollywood”, yet we aren't sure that this is quite what the play gives us. Rather, it has become a portrait of a woman who, despite being funny, smart and desperate to succeed, knows deep down that if she stopped for a second to think about her life, the futility and superficiality would cause her to run for the hills. And that is much more interesting.
|What||Product, Arcola Theatre|
|Where||Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street , London, E8 3DL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Highbury & Islington (underground)|
27 Apr 15 – 23 May 15, 8:00 PM – 8:50 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Arcola|