Reviews West End & Central Published 15 November 2015

Four Minutes Twelve Seconds

Trafalgar Studios ⋄ 10th November - 5th December 2015

Sex, lies and videotape.

Lydia Thomson
A question of consent

A question of consent

What’s the biggest lesson you can learn from your time in education? What’s really the stuff that’s going to propel you into the big wide world as a brilliant, honest, successful human being? What will make your parents smile proudly and say “Yes, yes she/he did really well”?

So goes the predicament that Jack’s parents face at the heart of Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, written by James Fritz. As it gradually transpires that their son has made a video of him having sex with his girlfriend Cara, and that the sex was not consensual, and that the video is plastered across the internet, the morality of the ensuing action spirals out of control. Do they protect their son until he has completed his exams ahead of going to university? Or do they report him to the police and teach him the error of his ways?

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the play brings up gleefully horrifying revelations that hurtle Di and David’s marriage into disarray. The pace and manner in which we are fed the information is delicious, until we are an audience aghast with wide eyes and hands over our mouths.

Fritz’ play is structurally very satisfying, and the liveness of watching the action unfold makes for a very short 90 minutes. Anna Ledwich’s direction is sharp, and the performances are consistently bright, focused and engaging. While Kate Maravan and Jonathan McGuiness as Di and David thrive in the darkness of the comedy, Ria Zmitrowicz’ feisty performance as Cara is the grounding voice of reason. Meanwhile, Anyebe Godwin’s charming performance as Jack’s friend Nick brings warmth to what looks like a sorry state of affairs for the next generation.

It’s just so solidly realised, with astute things to say about class, sexual consent and the internet. It is an intriguing choice that we should never meet or hear from Jack: all we get is heresy – a version of events – much like the internet itself. The play highlights the terrifying capacity for news to spread widely, quickly and permanently across the internet, to the point where the original perpetrator need not even grace the stage.

The play and its production are both provocative and clever, and are as inclined to moments of comedy as they are to pertinent questions. Will Jack glide through higher education and a sterling career without a whisper or repeat of his past misdemeanours? We can only hope so.

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Lydia Thomson

Lydia writes about theatre for her own blog and reviews local work for the Basingstoke Gazette and the Hampshire Chronicle. She was also a member of the reviewing team for LIFT 2014. As well as arts journalism, Lydia is a playwright and performance artist working in Hampshire and London. She is an associate artist of Proteus Theatre Company in Basingstoke and is part of the artist's network at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton.

Four Minutes Twelve Seconds Show Info


Directed by Anna Ledwich

Written by James Fritz

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