Can I Help You? - Omnibus Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until March 21, 2020

Photographer: Bridie O'Sullivan.

Jim Pope's transcendental production of Philip Osment's Can I Help You? deals with issues of suicide and mental health, digging deep into the hearts and minds of the actors and audience alike. Gabriel Vick as the suicidal policeman, Francis, gives probably the best individual performance we have seen from an actor in a long time. As he contemplates ending his life, a motherly woman appears carrying a bag and her cat in a box. Is she real or a figment of his imagination? Her grief over her stillborn son is devastating and the lullaby she sings certainly brings tears to our eyes. The wonderful Susan Aderin as Fifi matches Vick's bravura performance. Her instantaneous switches from a delusional Ghanaian woman to an East End mum are startlingly realistic. The play constantly flies between reality and fantasy helped enormously by the light and soundscapes produced by Ian Scott and Max Pappenheim. The audience experiences the waves crashing around Sue Mayes' evocative cliff-top set. The tension of the play with both characters beset by tragedy in their childhood is nicely broken with touches of genuine humour. We particularly liked Vick's portrayal of a child in the rain jumping in and out of puddles. The physicality of the struggle when firstly one character then the other attempts to end it all is exceptionally frightening. Major, thought-provoking issues surrounding despair are intelligently considered here. Will hope ultimately triumph as the sun rises? This first-rate play certainly demands to be seen.

Reviewed by D.S.J.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 21, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7:30 pm & Sun: 4 pm
Omnibus Theatre
Nearest tube: Clapham Common
https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/can-i-help-you/

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