The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm at Trafalgar Studios

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Who knew what we were in store for from the unassuming piece of text accompanying The Wasp: “Heather and Carla haven’t seen each other since school. Their lives have taken very different paths.” It goes on to say that Heather presents Carla with money and a proposition. This could have gone anywhere, but we can rely on The Hampstead’s programming to expect nothing less than the darkest possible scenario.

This play kept us on the edge of our seat throughout, as we watched Heather, apparently completely bonkers, slowly manipulate and exploit her old ‘friend’, Carla, for her own purposes. The proposition is a plot to kill her husband. This is totally unexpected given Heather’s innocent and sweet demeanour, played by an exceptional Laura Donnelly.  She has a seemingly pleasant exterior, some sort of Notting Hill yummy mummy, who does nothing but drink overpriced cappuccinos and shop in Westbourne Grove. Yet, in fact, what she is actually up to is planning an epic revenge for the pain and suffering caused to her by Carla when they were both young. MyAnna Buring plays the downtrodden mother of four, soon to be five with a gritty realism and predictability for her character.

Heather’s revenge with the help of Carla, would include the killing of her husband, the eradication of a phantom pain that seems to be preventing her from having children, a result of Carla’s bullying, and the adoption of Carla’s unborn baby. However there is far more to it than that.

This play twists and turns, and, until it has reached its dramatic conclusion, Laura Donnelly’s character Heather seems far-fetched. However, once the play ended she seemed completely realistic. A stunning conclusion had us thinking at one point that we might be about to witness an unplanned Caesarian section. Instead, there was a far more nuanced ending, something we won’t reveal, but something Heather had meticulously planned for some time.

This was a story we couldn’t anticipate, scheduled in the GingerWig calendar as ‘light Christmas viewing’. The play blew us into the back of our seats, with unnerving humour surrounding the madness of Heather, and the ordeal through which she puts Carla. There was an element of ‘Mean Girls’ on crack about this piece. Frightening, funny and unpredictable. A great piece of writing from Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. Keep up the dark programming at the Hampstead and the Trafalgar Studios!

Dramatic highlight of the show: The finale – everything finally fell into place, hearing Heather’s husband’s voice was the real shocker!

WIGS 4/5

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