Writer James Hogan demonstrates his understanding of the power of addiction and the price that is often paid in his play High Ridin’ at the King’s Head Theatre. This is a stunning investigation of the effects of substance abuse, in this case the much written about and powerful drug called Spice.
This is the story of Stan, played by Tom Michael Blyth, fresh out of prison who has inherited his dead father’s rundown old guesthouse. On his way to the house he picks up Ronnie, played by a very watchable Chi-Cho Tche, making his theatrical debut. There is a subtle chemistry between them and it’s clear that Stan is attracted to this fit, young, black lad who is coming to terms with his own demons. This three-hander is completed by Stan’s Aunt Ivy, played by Linda Beckett, who thinks she is entitled to anything of value still left in the guesthouse. The body language between the three actors is exceptional, capturing an almost soap opera like quality to their respective roles, punchy, hard hitting and antagonistic. Via Ivy’s character Hogan demonstrates that memories can be used as valuable weapons for revenge and that false forgiveness, linked to a strong religious faith, can be very destructive. The cast bring a passion to their roles and again via Peter Darney’s succinct direction the audience is swept along not only with the drama, but also moments of humour, such as the running gag about a painting of the Lake District. This is a significant and absorbing piece of theatre that is packed with life’s ups and downs of every kind. I left the theatre riding high after seeing High Ridin’. SV
Photos by Alex Brenner Photography