Anna de Vivo is charmed by and invested in Lion Theatre Company’s production of If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You.
Lion Theatre Company’s production of John O’Donovan’s If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You was a refreshing depiction of youthful uncertainty. A down-to-earth romantic drama that was quite literally elevated with all of the action taking place on a rooftop, the plot centred around the relationship between two best friends as well as lovers, Mikey (George Tarling) and Casey (Tom Cain), and their reflection on the nature of their relationship. Directed by Francesca Davies-Cáceres, the production was laced with dark humour and sardonic wit in one of the most accurate depictions of youth culture that I have seen onstage.
The depiction of Casey and Mikey’s relationship was playfully tense, with their child-like quarrels and precocious reflections on their youth we are reminded that these characters are only nineteen. Casey’s reflections on his family situation and his relationship with his nan tells us of his tenderness, which is wonderfully undercut by Mikey’s sarcastic realism. The dialogue seamlessly transitioned from the past to the present as the characters give us a holistic presentation of their lives outside of the current situation. Yet their seemingly older tendency on reflection was injected with juvenility as scatological humour and expletives were peppered throughout. Their casual colloquialisms reminded us that their situation was balancing on the tip of a needle, with the male bravado of their dialogue distracting us from their deeper vulnerabilities.
Alington Community Centre made for an intimate venue, with a smaller stage area the minimalist setting was very economical and very effective as empty beer cans were scattered across the roof. There was a budding sense of inclusivity in the audience as the actors directly interacted with us, pretending that we were the police or looking out beyond the stage as they visualised the cityscape. As the venue was smaller, there was no need for loud acoustics, keeping true to the naturalistic set-design, the focus remained pinned on the confessional dialogue. Despite being a drama, aspects of this play were deeply poetic, with Casey meditatively monologuing on his house in Croydon reflecting on how the estate looks beautiful in the sunset. It was the fact that the staging extended beyond the stage that was the hallmark of this production’s set, with the dynamic changes in lighting and the intermittent explosions of sirens that reminded us of why the characters were in this situation in the first place– they were running from the police.
What was also striking about this production was the delivery of dialogue and action, with tactically placed pauses and euphemisms building sexual tension, a lot was said in their dialogue of repression. This accumulated through the coy glances the characters darted at each other during their playful exchanges. Whilst the action did at times feel static as the play is indeed dialogue-heavy, this fact was overshadowed by the politically charged one-liners, with Mikey’s comment on his sexuality and the lack of solidarity in his town: ‘I’m a parade! I’m a one-man f***ing parade!’ Yet this stillness combusted during the final scene of Mikey’s self-sacrifice for Casey, ending on the romantically loaded exchange of ‘I love you’, leaving the audience feeling incompletely hopeful.
If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You is emotionally toiling, with the normality of these characters shining through the actors’ performances. As a kind of heart-breaking love song to youth, much of the anxieties covered was lightened by their folly. This play is never fully grounded in the present, romanticising their recent past as well as worrying about their imminent future, reminding us that the depiction of youthful debauchery is perennial.
If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You will be playing at Alington House on 1st November at 7:30pm.
Photography: Alex Leggatt