by Lewis GoodallI confess, I had no idea what to expect from Small Change, but it turned out to be a pleasantly surprising and at times genuinely quite moving production, exploring the relatively neglected but ever-fascinating topic of the mother-son relationship. It does so with aplomb. But what is it abou? Well, here’s the thing: not a lot. But don’t despair; it’s not one of those depressingly ‘post-modern’ pieces that few understand and even fewer like. The play takes the form of exploring the memories of four characters and their development over time. The two male characters start the play as gawky teenagers, dominated by their mothers. There’s the subtlest hint of Oedipus complex going on here, but for the sake of our souls I’ll gloss over it quickly. By the end, all are emotionally hollowed out, sickened by life, by the mental deterioration of their mothers and the niggling fact that they’ve also never had the chance to sleep together. There are some quite hefty gripes I have. Quite a few of them are associated with Alex Worsnip’s performance. Occasionally inspired but mostly quite constipated, Worsnip struggles with most of his dialogue. And please, Alex, don’t try and play 16 year old boys ever again, and, if you do, lose the “I’m a teenager therefore I mumble and never take my hands out of my pockets and move my head like a duck” routine. It’s just not a good look I’m afraid. However, I am in danger of being overly critical. His later scenes, where he is playing a more mature, angst-ridden character are far better, and the character’s gay epiphany with Vincent must surely rank as the highlight of the entire play. This slightly cringe worthy teenage angst is easily forgotten by the stellar performance of Ellen Buddle. I’m not entirely sure that she is actually Welsh, but kudos to her for maintaining the accent, rather than lapsing into a dialectical tour of the United Kingdom which unfortunately befalls the other cast members. For me, her performance as the psychologically unfortunate Mrs. Driscoll steals the show. Everything’s perfect – the hollering (albeit increasingly annoying) agitated Welsh voice, the gaunt appearance (one gets the impression the character is altogether too on edge to eat regularly) – everything screams psychological issues. The only thing missing was an assortment of cats, though what Gill would have thought of that I’m not sure. The debut of Archie Davies as Vincent deserves a mention. A more confident performance than that of Worsnip, admittedly it often feels he has less to do and appears merely as a side-show to Worsnip, but this is more a fault of the play than of the actor. An interesting future lies ahead I think. If nothing else because my companion for the evening, to whom I turned for any thoughts on the play, could offer only the gem “well, Archie’s a fittie.” Cheers Cheryl. Utterly profound. On a more profound not, we have here a deeply thought-provoking play, exploring the troubled tumultuous nature of human relationships. Surely one of the better things on offer this Michaelmas.