The Spoils aka “The Big Bang Theory on speed”: in a warped mirror reflecting back a navel-gazing bunch of young people, fast talking is the norm and conflict inevitable.
This is a comedy that slowly descends into darkness. The setting is reminiscent of The Big Bang Theory and Friends – and you almost expect neurotic Ben (Jesse Eisenberg) to tell his Nepalese flatmate Kalyan (Kunar Nayyar) to shift along the sofa because he is sitting on his spot. But that’s where the references stop and the storyline takes a different trajectory. The couch becomes the therapist’s couch, where confessions are rife and embarrassing tales shared with a mix of awkwardness and compulsion.
There are two couples and one single guy, all competing to be the smartest, funniest, most successful of the bunch. It’s a microcosm of modern life where there are no certainties and you need to make your own path without any direction. Some (Ben) have the safety blanket of having financial support from family and not having to worry about money for the rest of their lives, while others (Kalyan) made extreme sacrifices to leave their home country, get a scholarship and work their way up in the hope of leaving a mark on society.
Ben spouts racial abuse as confetti, his rage peppering every conversation he has – his addictions exacerbating his neurosis and aggression. He seems to feel forced to hurt the ones he loves and doesn’t seem to have any filters. This makes it very compelling to watch – particularly if you are sitting close to the stage, as you feel you are literally sitting across the same living room as the protagonists. Considering that sometimes we know more about TV characters and actors than we do about family and friends, this play breaks the fourth wall and sucks you in, spitting you out at the end as you raise up from your seat to give the cast a deserved standing ovation.
http://www.trafalgar-studios.co.uk/ until 13th August 2016.