This Might Not Be It ★★★★★ Bush Theatre | Jan 30 - Mar 7, 2024

This is it! Finally a show that has heart and intelligence and is beautifully acted. Sophia Chetin-Leuner has written a skilfully constructed show that deals with a workplace relationship that we can all recognise: the bumptious, well-intentioned newbie versus the somewhat jaded, out-of-date old hand. The two are yoked together in an NHS reception service, and their uneasy relationship is presented in a nicely nuanced and refreshingly realistic way. Chetin-Leuner has created fully realised and multi-dimensional characters. There are no villains here – just two people who are at different stages in their personal and working lives and who must gradually learn to value each other's skills and experience. The plot is nicely developed as the youthful Jay (Denzel Baidoo) only gradually realises that he is being used as a pawn in a bureaucratic intrigue, and the veteran Angela (Debra Baker) shows that she still has a few tricks up her sleeve. It is all handled in a nicely understated manner, without undue histrionics, and Baidoo and Baker create subtly etched engaging characters. Baidoo gets it just right as he walks the line between adolescent overconfidence and youthful insecurity. He never overplays a part that could easily degenerate into caricature. From the moment she answers the phone in her weary professional voice, Baker has the audience in the palm of her hand. She is simply perfect as the consummate professional who has learned to control her emotional involvement in the cases she deals with. She still cares, but she has learned to protect herself and in doing so may have lost something. This work has a lot to say. We are amused by the differing perspectives of youth and experience, and we are made to see the complexity of being a professional carer. There is a need for systems, but they have a potential to dehumanise those working in them and those using them. As with the characters, Chetin-Leuner treats these complex issues from a nicely balanced perspective. If we have any quibble with this work, it is its abstract, forgettable title. But that aside, we'd say "This one should be on your not-to-be-missed list."

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz

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