If Tarantula is long for a monologue its structure is a bit like two of them thrown together: The first is this opening sweet story with a shadow of impending doom, and the trauma, confusion and fragmented memories that result when that doom arrives and derails the story. The violent incident isn't the end of her trouble as the man with the spider tattoo remains a threatening presence in Toni's life, until her family finally move away from London for their own safety.
This is where the distinct second half of the story kicks in, and for me it's the weaker half. We now see a very different, confident to the point of cockiness, version of Toni: In her new life she's reinvented herself, but just as she lies about her background to the new people she meets, the happy life she and her family have found is too perfect not to be lying to the audience and herself. In a way this is the more ambitious kind of tragedy Ridley is exploring in the play: Toni has found what looks like happiness but it's incredibly fragile and is, at best, economical with the truth, at worst complete fantasy. But in execution this lacks the pace and tension of the first half - I wasn't sure where it was going and I did find the ending a bit of a damp squib. Henley impresses throughout though, getting through a hell of a lot of script full of abrupt emotional twists and turns.
Tarantula by Philip Ridley is live-streaming until the 1st of May from Southwark Playhouse.
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.