Four Minutes Twelve Seconds by James Fritz at Trafalgar Studios

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Nominated for an Olivier award in April 2015 and runner-up in Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award in 2014, Central School of Speech and Drama graduate James Fritz, exceptional debut play returns to the stage, this time at Trafalgar Studios. Having premiered last year at the Hampstead Theatres, this play continues to shock and awe audiences that come to it. Ginger Wig was certainly among them.

Concerning the actions of a teenager, his parents struggle with trying to work out the facts of what their son, the apple of their eye, has actually been up to. Was it just a cheeky video with his ex girlfriend, or was it something more. And who put it up on the internet? This play is brilliant in its construction, as central character Jack is only ever mentioned and discussed but never seen. Instead we see his two parents panicking and planning to try to sort our his future whilst keeping him safe.

Rarely is a play so shocking that our only response is a slightly nervous laugh, but that is exactly what ‘Four Minutes Twelve Seconds’ did to us. The story is revealed slowly. On discovering the truth about their son, his parents find themselves using emotional blackmail on each other in their different responses to the situation. This play if anything, showed that even if you have known someone for many years, certain situations can arise which will prompt an unpredictable reaction. The way that smart phones and the internet, have been incorporated into the sexual landscape of young people today is another dimension to this play.

There were breathtaking performances from parents Di and David, played by Kate Maravan and Jonathan McGuinness respectively. Predictable to begin with, in their interpretation but anything but by the end. Ria Zmitrowicz was brilliant as the seemingly horrible ex-girlfriend, however she too is more layered than first appears. What was clear here was that all of the characters were moving parts in this story and it all came together in the end as we began to realise the real situation.

The play was brilliantly directed in by Anna Ledwich, anther player definitely on the rise having opened the Chichester Festival in 2012 with Theatre on the Fly, as well as her recent Edinburgh Festival success ‘How Does a Snake Shed its Skin’. She has created a no-frills show, with little to distract form the power of the story, with characters miming various props, in order to concentrate on the human drama of this story.

What a debut from James Fritz with this modern and dynamic play, that leaves you on the edge of the seat and slowly gives you answers your not sure you wanted. Exceptional direction and performances throughout. Good to have this back in theatres, although not for much longer! Catch it at Trafalgar Studios until 5th December!

Dramatic highlight of the show – James’ masterful release of information throughout the play, slowly building the tension and our understanding of the boy, Jack.

WIGS 5/5

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