The independent London newspaper

Review: Late Company, at Trafalgar Studios 2

31 August, 2017 — By Sipora Levy

Lisa Stephenson, Alex Lowe and David Leopold in Late Company. Photo: Alastair Muir

THE uncomfortable dinner party is familiar dramatic territory for playwrights but, nevertheless, Jordan Tannahill, the young Canadian author of Late Company, has crafted an outstanding and quite original play.

Set in the aftermath of a gay teenager’s suicide in Canada, following cyber-bullying, in 75 minutes it has more impact in tackling important issues than others twice the length.

Grieving parents Michael and Debora, a politician and his artist wife, invite Curtis, one of the perpetrators, and his parents Bill and Tamara to dinner, ostensibly to get closure.

But things don’t go according to plan, as raw and ugly emotions erupt, threatening the thin veneer of hospitality. There are class tensions too.

This is first and foremost a study of grief and in particular the impact the death of a child has on its parents and local community. It also raises other important questions connected to cyberspace, parents’ relationships with their children, issues around sexuality or depression. Do we ever really know our children?

Tannahill has created a play that is darkly witty, compassionate and deeply profound.

The five actors are excellent, conveying a range of complex emotions. In particular David Leopold as Curtis gives a haunting performance as an awkward, confused and helpless teenager. There is an incredibly moving scene where Lucy Robinson as Debora reads a grief-stricken letter to him – the boy who bullied her son to death.

It is seamlessly directed by Michael Yale, who was responsible for the sublime This Little Life of Mine two years ago.

Tannahill is a playwright to watch and Late Company is essential viewing.

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