It’s Saturday night and the judges are gathering for their prime-time slot, feeding the nation their weekly fix. Except the harshest critics are sitting on your sofa and the mute button doesn’t seem to work.
A tough new comedy about addiction.
Nick Grosso came through the Royal Court’s Young Writers Programme and his monologue Mama Don’t (1993) was produced by the Royal Court and staged at the Commonwealth Institute. His subsequent plays at the Royal Court include his debut, Peaches (later made into a film), Sweetheart, Real Classy Affair and Kosher Harry.
Age guidance 14+
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes inc. interval
Select a Date
Dates in May
|Thu 20 May 2010||4:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 29 May 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 29 May 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
Dates in June
|Tue 1 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Thu 3 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Fri 4 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 5 Jun 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 5 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Tue 8 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Wed 9 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Fri 11 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 12 Jun 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 12 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Tue 15 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Wed 16 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Thu 17 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Fri 18 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 19 Jun 2010||4:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
|Sat 19 Jun 2010||7:45pm||Jerwood Theatre Upstairs|
Sold out Performances
- Concessions £10* (avail. in advance until 29 May incl. and all mats. For all other perfs, avail. on a standby basis on the day).
- School and HE Groups of 8+ £7.50 (avail. Tue–Fri and mats).
- Access £10 (plus a companion at the same rate).
*ID required, not bookable online. All discounts are subject to availability.
4 stars The Daily Telegraph, Charles Spencer, 28th of May 2010
Nick Grosso burst on the scene in 1994 with Peaches at the Royal Court, a lively, laddish play full of witty motor- mouth dialogue about the thrills and the agonies of adolescence. Several more fine plays followed, but then Grosso disappeared and we have heard nothing from him for almost a decade. Every now and again I wondered what had happened to him.
Ingredient X, the cracking new play with which he returns to the Court, provides the answer. Its a play about addiction, to which Grosso himself succumbed and from which he is now in recovery.
The only male character, Frank, is a writer, living in some luxury with his new partner and a baby. He goes to meetings and appears to be keeping to the straight and narrow. All of which might sound worthy and dull, but the play turns out to be wonderfully funny as well as tough and touching, and Frank himself speaks remarkably little.
The real meat of the play is provided by Frank’s new partner Katie, and her two gabby neighbours who have come round to watch The X Factor. Rosanna and Deanne knock back vast quantities of rum and Coke, swear like troopers, and discuss sex, love, booze, drugs and the iniquities of the male of the species and with wild abandon. But real dramatic suspense is provided when the meek Frank goes out to get some ice for their drinks and doesnt return for almost an hour.
Rosanna instantly concludes that he has gone to score drugs and will come back high as a kite. And Frank’s partner Katie, who has always been drawn to addicts and is trying to get to grips with her own co-dependency problems, begins to suffer agonies of doubt about whether he has relapsed.
The play examines the whole pressing subject of addiction in this country, ranging from kids hooked on video games to women in thrall to junk television and terrible men. And there is a deeply moving scene in which the sweet and bubbly Welsh neighbour Deanne suddenly confesses to her alcoholism.
Occasionally the play, nimbly directed by Deborah Bruce and stylishly designed be Ben Stones, tips into psychobabble and the language of recovery programmes. But for the most part Grosso treats his dark subject matter with a mixture of admirable wit and bracing insight. His dialogue is as deliciously sparky as it was in his early plays, but is now accompanied by a new depth of feeling and hard-earned wisdom.
Oddly enough, it is the character of Frank, who must be closest to Grosso, who seems the least compelling in James Lance’s subdued performance. But Lesley Sharp brings a wonderful mixture of sardonic humour and cruel malice to the gabby Rosanna, a comic monster to rival Beverly in Abigail’s Party, Lisa Palfrey is delightfully funny and affecting as Deanna, and Indira Varma powerfully captures the strain and decency of a woman who has had to cope with helpless, feckless addicts for too long.
Its great to have Grosso back with a play of such humanity, wisdom and comic panache.4 stars What’s On Stage, Theo Bosanquet, 27th of May 2010
What a barnstorming return this is for Nick Grosso, a writer who’s been off the theatrical radar for nearly ten years.
This is kitchen sink drama, only now the sink sits on a faux-granite worksurface in a flashy warehouse apartment. But no amount of mod cons can disguise the fact that the situation these 30 and 40-somethings are in is a desperate one all are dealing in various ways with the fall-out of addiction.
Katie’s invited her friends Deanne and Rosanna round to watch X-Factor. Her partner Frank, a recovering drug addict, manfully puts up with them as they treat him like a barman, twice sending him out to fetch coke (as in cola) and ice. But when he disappears for more than half an hour, doubts about his whereabouts creep in, and Deanne and Rosanna, themselves haunted by their own failed relationships, delight in winding Katie up; you’re addicted to addicts suggests Rosanna, helpfully.
Grosso touches on addictions of many kinds, from drugs and alcohol through to video games, internet surfing and even dysfunction. The generation of libidinous lads he chronicled in the 90s has unsurprisingly produced women like Katie, Deanne and Rosanna, who find their children without fathers and their partners without responsibility.
But this isn’t just a play about addiction, it’s also a pinpoint study of female friendship. Although I found it difficult to believe that the sensitive and sophisticated Katie would be so close to the coarse Rosanna and Deanne, nevertheless the way the power shifts around between the three is fascinating to watch. Poor old Frank is a pawn who takes their bullying in good humour, but there’s always the threat that he will crack (dare I say one couldn’t blame him for turning to his pipe).
Of the performances, the show-stealer is Lesley Sharp, in her element as the swaggering, cajoling, nitpicking Rosanna, a sadistic psychoanalyst who revels in the failings of others, while readily admitting to her own. Matching her for laughs however is Lisa Palfrey as the self-condemned fat slag Deanne – a study in self-destruction, a Welsh bonne vivante with four kids from four men who drinks the flat dry but denies she’s an alcoholic.
As Frank and Katie, James Lance and Indira Varma are well matched and provide a nicely underplayed foil to the larger-than-life Sharp and Palfrey. Their relationship is complicated but touchingly co-dependent; when Frank discovers a friend and fellow addict has died, he childishly asks Katie why. And in a solemn, sober conclusion, he pours away the dregs of rum and cleans up the flat, a symbolic finale that ensures this engrossing evening ends with a glimmer of optimism.
It is a fascinating and sometimes hilarious cocktail
— Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
Grosso is on excellent form, his dialogue cracking with vim and wit, darting from the sublime to the cor blimey with effortless ease
— Ben Dowell, The Stage
But performances on Ben Stones smart set, are terrific- particularly from Sharp, all jagged edges, angels and stabbing, wounding wit. A wild joyride
— Sam Marlowe, The Times