Against (The Almeida)

I have to say I wasn’t super excited about the prospect of Christopher Shinn’s new play Against. The blurb put me in mind of an 21st Century morality play in which Mark Zuckerberg-esque Silicon Valley tech billionaire eschews his fortune to go on a crusade to shine a light on the violence that pervades our culture.

The remarkable Ben Wishaw playing Luke was the little ray of sunshine in what sounded like it might become a crude and preachy 3 hours, but in actual fact I need not have worried. Shinn’s script which on paper seemed a very series of conversations with victims of violence had a delightful deftness of touch that I really wasn’t expecting.

Predictably nuanced performances from Wishaw and Amanda Hale (who plays Luke’s long-suffering assistant Sheila) inject real energy and vim, and while there remains the odd creaky moment – I could have done without the quite so heavy handed Machiavellian imagery – I nonetheless found the whole thing eminently watchable.

Is it a world-beater? In no way, but it’s interesting, and light without taking itself too seriously.

I also think Elliot Barnes Worrell who plays Melvyn is a real talent – keep an eye on him.


At The Almeida Theatre, Islington until September 30th.

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