Absolute Certainty at Hope Mill
Absolute Certainty, written by Stewart Campbell and presented by Qweerdog Theatre, started its tour at Hope Mill Theatre on January 28th. Two of the actors (Samuel Edward Taylor and Kyle Fisher) are reprising their roles from a previous production. Daniel Maley makes his debut. There are some changes to the previous production but the main themes remain. The play is billed as a comedy drama, and that’s the correct ordering. There is indeed humour in the second act, but the underlying realities sometimes leave the laughter dying on the lips.
There are still just the three characters, Deano (Samuel Edward Taylor), a laddish builder whose main aim in life is getting wasted on booze and ketamine on a night out, Lee (Kyle Fisher) his work and drinking buddy with similar tendencies but who isn’t quite as hell-bent on self-destruction, and Finn, Deano’s younger brother, who is a sensitive type on his way to university.
Deano holds his younger brother in contempt, and Princess is the kindest word thrown at him. Lee isn’t quite as dismissive though. The brothers live at home with their father, who we never see, and where Lee is a frequent visitor. Mother, who left long ago to live with another woman, is not allowed even to be mentioned. All of this makes for an atmosphere where troubles lurk just a casual remark away.
Without revealing too much, Lee acts as a go-between for Finn and his mother which leads to a loose bond developing between them. Deano initially tries to ignore Lee’s encouragement of Finn, and that his style is being cramped by his younger brother, but rifts soon start to appear in relationships. With Lee as mentor, and Deano as his tormentor, Finn is naturally attracted to the former and seems to want to know him better. After a particularly excessive night Lee crashes at the house, roles are reversed, and the first act ends with Lee being looked after by Finn….
In the second act we can tell that something has happened, but this isn’t a household where feelings are expressed. A few communications via text provide a clue though, and on Finn’s 18th birthday, after he’s done a line of ketamine, things come to an explosive head, and issues that have hitherto been avoided for years have to be faced.
From a former review (https://www.canal-st.co.uk/box-office/canal-st-reviews/absolute-certainty-at-kings-arms) :
This is a strong play, with strong characters and strong language. It’s well produced, and well executed. The portrayal of the characters is excellent. Besides the humour, we have confrontations, and although these initially stem from differences between the people we see, they’re ultimately about the characters confronting themselves.
It's impossible to say anything different now.
After the Hope Mill run ends on 1st February, the tour takes in Crewe (Lyceum, 7th/8th February), Birmingham (Old Joint Stock, 12th – 14th March) and Liverpool (Royal Court, 19th – 21st March)
Paul Schofield for Canal St Online
Published: 31-Jan-2020 (5742)