Unreachable by Anthony Neilson at The Royal Court


Amanda Drew (Anastasia), Jonjo O’Neill (The Brute) and Richard Pyros (Carl) in Unreachable, ©Tristram Kenton 

The playwright Anthony Neilson is a very interesting creative. Coming to his first rehearsal with just an idea, he builds his show from the ground up working laterally around the idea with his actors. Because of this, little was known about ‘Unreachable’ before it opened. What we did know, however, was that ‘light’ is crucial thanks to one of the many videos released in tandem with the rehearsal process that offered some clues about the show.

A troubled but brilliant film director, Maxim, is trying to shoot the follow up to his Palme d’or winning film. He is a moody and difficult character who has never known his parents. He creates obstacles in everything he does and it is left to his producer, Anastasia, to lift his mood and massage his ego in order to keep his films on track. Maxim stalls the shoot constantly due to the absence of a particular ‘light’ he wants for shooting. And so the film is thrown into chaos as the producer tries to keep it altogether. In addition to these two characters are the Director of Photography, someone representing some new producers who have been brought in to inject funding to the project, the leading lady and an outrageous late casting.

This show was hilarious and had the audience roaring and clapping their approval throughout. Matt Smith was wonderful as the ‘Director’ playing the troubled artiste with a sense of entitlement and fragility brilliantly suited to his character. Amanda Drew played the hard-balling producer very well, whilst Genevieve Barr did a great job as the representative of the new producers. Richard Pyros had us roaring with laughter as a slightly eccentric but meek D.O.P. His short shorts and pulled-up socks complimented his ridiculous metaphors and natural humour. Tamara Lawrance played the seemingly emotionally blank actress. However, when she performed scenes from the film she was extremely moving. Finally Jonjo O’Neill made a spectacular contribution to this show with his over the top eastern european Ivan ‘The Brute’. His arrival out of a tiny box was hysterical and was followed by a hilarious rant about the troubles he had overcome.

There were so many details that added to the tremendous comedy generated by these actors that were made all the more impressive by its improvisational nature. This required the actors to hold back their own laughter, often as a result of Ivan. The most memorable moment was the tale of his father’s allotment, which meant a lot to him… This had Genevieve really struggling to hold back her laughter. This was a real pleasure to see, as we at the GingerWig & StrollingMan love to see actors having fun.

Eventually Maxim found his light. Light always follows dark… But it was his struggle framed by this brilliant ensemble comedy that really made this show. Anthony Neilson really is a genius. It’s a shame we cannot see this piece again. It changed every night.

Highlight of the piece – the comedic flair of the actors.

WIGS 4/5



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