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Review: Cash Cow, at Hampstead Theatre, Downstairs

27 June, 2019 — By Sipora Levy

Phoebe Pryce and Jonathan Livingstone in Cash Cow. Photo: Robert Day

IT is apt that Cash Cow arrives in time for Wimbledon, dealing as it does with sporting ambition, pushy parents and the vast amounts of money to be made on the tennis circuit.

Nina (Phoebe Pryce) and Ade (Jonathan Livingstone) are loving, but struggling, working-class parents, who decide to invest in their daughter’s future by turning her into Britain’s No 1 tennis player. They are hoping for fantastic returns.

The play lasts 90 minutes without an interval, moves back and forward in time, and is a tremendous two-hander in which the child’s invisibility reinforces the ways in which the parents blindly disregard her needs, which results in tragedy. Getting the parents to speak the child’s lines, in an offhand monosyllabic manner, chillingly heightens the drama, while creating emotional distance between members of the family.

Director Katie Pesskin has done a brilliant job of bringing this technically complex play to life, assisted by her fine actors and atmospheric sound and music by Ed Lewis.

The smaller studio space at Hampstead can be unforgiving, with the audience encroaching on the actors. There is no room for mediocrity. However, Oli Forsyth’s writing is so emotionally and psychologically astute and the actors so sensitively in tune with the text, that the evening transcends limitations.

Forsyth is definitely a writer to follow. Cash Cow cements his reputation and deserves to be seen by a much wider audience.

Until July 20
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