SAM. The Good Person is as good a fringe play as you will currently find in London.
It is witty, biting, immersive, sad and ultimately gut wrenching as tragedy unfolds. Seventy five minutes of theatre that sucks the viewer in like a giant vacuum and refuses to let them (both mind and body) go until the clock strikes 8.45 and the proverbial final curtain is lowered.
At the play’s core is Sam (a brilliant Declan Perring) who is receiving group therapy. He enters the room framed by a circle of chairs (some occupied by brave souls from the audience). He is nervous, fidgety, apologetic and makes a cup of tea only to discover there is no milk. He grabs a biscuit hoping no one will notice. He sings to himself.
In session, he then starts to unburden himself and the story that unfolds is gripping. Slowly but surely we learn that Sam’s life has been built on a set of lies. Right from the start when as a child he would lie about the fact that his Dad had pancreatic cancer when he was actually fit as a butcher’s dog.
The lies continue through school, university and beyond. Indeed, they come so thick and fast that he is forced to jot them down in diaries so that he can remind himself what he has told to whom.
Is it a lack of self-confidence and self-belief that drives these lies? Or is it the fact that they get him ‘results’ – the ending of a relationship with a smitten older man (Andrew) and the beginning of one with Laura. The lies he tells to both are horrible ones – and they come back to savage him in gory style.
Perring, who wrote the play, is immense as Sam. He is also exceptional as the voices of those involved in his chequered life – Mum, Dad, Andrew, Laura and various other girlfriends.
This is high octane acting from a talented individual. By the end, he is exhausted while the audience, suddenly released from the vacuum they have been trapped in for an hour and quarter, are left stunned by what they have just seen. Applause all round.
Perring should win a stack of awards for both the originality of his script and the quality of his acting. Sam. The Good Person is theatre at its very best. A pity it has only managed to get a five night run at The Bunker in London’s Southwark. It ends on January 19 – grab a ticket if you can (there is a Saturday matinee) and wait to be sucked into Sam’s world of lies.
Finally, the creative team behind the play all deserve medals – from director Stephanie Withers (founder of theatre company Off The Middle) through to lighting and sound designers Will Alder and Nick Clinch who are effective in reinforcing the play’s key themes. A notch up in sound to denote that Dad is angry. Sam spinning his lies on an Edinburgh dance floor to the vibrant pulse of disco music.
‘If no one know it’s a lie, is it really a lie?’ asks Sam. Food for January thought.