Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Jess Docker Show - review

Pentameters Theatre, London

First of all, it must be noted that the Pentameters Theatre is a wonderful little gem nestled at the top of a winding staircase above the Three Horseshoes Pub in Hampstead. It showcases both new writing and revamped classics alike. The Jess Docker Show by Harry Saks is a satirical look at how the 'trash culture' of programs such as The X Factor and Big Brother are creating a dumbed-down society in which it is difficult to maintain artistic integrity and survive within the arts industry.

Low-budget filmmaker Tristan (Andrew Fitch) and scriptwriter Holly (Chloe Fontaine) are living in a rundown, grotty Camden flat and are reaching breaking point with both their relationship, and their lack of professional success. In a hope to change their luck, Holly devises a plan; she is going to lure the sleazy television personality, Jess Docker (Christopher Kouros), back to her and Tristan's flat and attempt by any means necessary to get a slot on his show. However, hot-headed Tristan threatens to jeopardise everything with his inability to compromise on his principles.

It's a fast-paced, rambunctious comedy, and with the recent scandal about TV personality Jimmy Saville, it has quite a topical slant. Both Fitch and Kouros deliver believable and charismatic performances, the intimate space allowing for no escape from Docker's creepy gaze and oily persona. However, at times the dialogue seems a little forced and unnatural, the conversation not quite flowing easily and, occasionally, the story racing along ahead of itself. What's more, Fontaine's Holly is hard to warm to, and has moments of being over-acted. The sense of claustrophobia felt by Holly and Tristan and the lack of escape for Docker is palpable for the audience as we, too, are held within the tiny space of their flat. The clutter of both the set and the theatre itself only adds to the sensation of being trapped within their world.

The plot is fairly unpredictable. It is full of twists and there is a slightly unexpected darkness resonating from Tristan's bitterness, Holly's desperation and Docker's unapologetic debasement. The Jess Docker Show is an enjoyable hour which ultimately culminates in quite a satisfactory conclusion, leaving us questioning where our priorities lie and how far we are really willing to go to achieve our dreams.

This production runs until 3rd February 2013.

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