Sunday, 4 May 2014

Theatre review: Velocity

If you enjoy feeling baffled, London's theatres are really catering to your interests at the moment. Daniel Macdonald's Velocity takes the alternate slot at the Finborough with a gleefully surreal story of a teenage girl who longs for a bit more of what she imagines a "normal" family life to be, and tries to use science to make it happen. Dot (Rosie Day) is 15, and for her Physics project she'll be experimenting with Newtonian theories by blowing her father up and out of his 73rd floor office. The six seconds it takes him to fall to the ground are slowed down to last the whole of her presentation, so before Michael (Nicholas Cass-Beggs) goes splat we get to meet him and his TV presenter wife Laura (Helene Wilson) and see what Dot sees, as they prioritise their work over her and over each other.

She also introduces us to Ming (Siu-See Hung,) the best friend she wishes she could be more like, and the older boys who both like her, Jee (Waleed Akhtar) and Zoo (Sion Alun Davies.) But she doesn't have as much control over her experiment as she expects.

Macdonald's play is a demented race through a teenage girl's hormones and preoccupations and Blythe Stewart's production confidently grabs its absurdities and runs with them. Day is a bright and enthusiastic lead, backed up to great comic effect by Hung, Akhtar and Davies. The casual racism Laura demonstrates towards Ming and Jee, and which would probably horrify her to have pointed out to her, is nicely observed, although the conceit of having both parents act like cartoon characters gets a bit grating after a while.

Velocity is at its best when it's externalising the inner thoughts of a teenage girl; it loses its way a bit when trying to make a larger point about the world. But it's a fun, different show regardless, and features a few promising new faces.

Velocity by Daniel Macdonald is booking in repertory until the 13th of May at the Finborough Theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes straight through.

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