Testament at the Hope Theatre: Review by Stephen Vowles

Testament by Sam Edmunds, and co-directed by him and William Harrison, is an important play as it tackles subjects that are getting ever more media and public attention. The rise in the number of suicides in young men and the increase in mental illness caused by the pressures of modern life and events that can be thrown at us.

This is the story of Max who was involved in a car crash and about the aftermath of that event. Initially social and health workers think the only way to keep him stable, and even looking at the broader picture to keep a lid on it, is to control his anxiety by over prescribing pills. People can be cured or left docile by being over medicated. Popping pills is now the new norm. The dramatic increase in opiate use and abuse has recently made the headlines.

This is aggressive, high drama and at the centre of it is a tour de force performance by Nicholas Shalebridge as Max who digs deep showing an emotional range that is breathtaking. He has formidable skill as an actor and is totally engrossing to watch as is William Shackleton who plays his brother Chris, who has a secret. Edmunds looks at the power of friendship, sibling rivalry and of being in love.

The rest of the cast, Jessica Frances as Max’s girlfriend Tess,  Shireenah Ingram as the Doctor and finally David Angland and Daniel Leadbitter playing Jesus and Lucifer respectively, are also firing on all cylinders adding terrific support to Shalebridge whose command of the stage is phenomenal.

This play will give you something to think about with regards to how society copes when traumatic events take place. A system has to be in place that helps and protects people when bad things happen. Stylised theatre with a high degree of creativity and humour that offers a sensitive exploration of trauma. Absorbing and disturbing in equal measure.



Testament runs to 1st June at the Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington, London N1. Box office 0333 666 3366

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