Leopards ★★★ Rose Theatre | September 2 - 25, 2021


In the foyer of the beautiful Rose Theatre there are notices urging us not to disclose the plot twists in Alys Metcalf's new play, Leopards. Of course we won't, beyond saying there is a clue in the title. At one hundred minutes this is a rather wordy and frequently repetitive piece. We are being encouraged to consider what it means to be a good person and the author is constantly trying to wrong-foot us. The opening scene in a hotel bar doesn't feel well paced with words tumbling out without any realistic time for thought. Later, the action becomes almost too slow as one bullet point after another is laboriously hammered home. It feels as if the writer has a checklist of issues she must introduce and is ticking them off one by one. Martin Marquez is Ben an internationally renowned figure ostensibly helping Niala, a young woman played by Saffron Coomber, onto the ladder to success. Both actors have the near impossible task of making their characters appear sympathetic. Christopher Haydon directs efficiently but perhaps, Gareth Fry should reconsider his sound design in scene one as the distant ambient buzz is reminiscent of unwanted ringtones or a disco in the foyer. This long play tries to navigate a complex moral maze with limited success. To make Leopards a real hit we feel that it needs to change more than its spots.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Iona Firouzabadi.

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