Theatre review - Realism

REALISM by Anthony Neilson

Soho Theatre, running until 9 July

For his debut as artistic director of Soho Theatre, Steve Marmion has staged a welcome revival of Anthony Neilson’s irreverent comedy, first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006.

Delightfully off-the-wall, REALISM follows a day in the life of Tim Treloar (the character is given the actor’s name), Mr Average, who has just split up with his girlfriend. Dressed in underpants and vest he mooches round his flat until his thoughts take over and turn an ordinary day into a joyful celebration of life’s absurdities.

What makes Neilson’s cracking play so exceptional is the theatrical panache with which he gets into the head of his main character. Tim’s subconscious thoughts and fantasies are brought to life through a series of surreal scenes where oversized vegetables fall from the sky, his mother pops up in the washing-machine to give him advice on his laundry, and a human-sized cat taunts him from the sofa.

REALISM is also gloriously non-PC. The Black and White Minstrels make an appearance with a profane number about a bill Tim swears he’s paid. In another scene, Tim gets to act out one of his sexual fantasies with two former girlfriends.

His day descends into further mayhem when Tim imagines his best friend murdering him and then dreams up his funeral.

Marmion’s imaginative staging and the superb cast keep us guessing throughout. For those not easily shockable this anarchic 80-minutes of fun is guaranteed to send you home with a big, fat smile on your face.