DH Lawrence said he was always astonished when watching Shakespeare that “such trivial people should muse and thunder in such lovely language”. If you seek out this fine production of Che Walker’s remarkable new LA-set drama, you may well feel something similar. There’s a tragicomic chorus in the form of Sasha Frost’s endearing Serena the Sex Worker. It has some rhyming couplets, a bit of expressionist movement, a backdrop showing filmed footage of what characters are wanting or recalling — and all for the price of a cinema ticket.
The plot, admittedly, is not new. But it is consistently elevated by the playwright’s ear for the music and magic of speech. Petty criminal Blaz (Gabriel Akuwudike) gets out of the joint to learn that his hot Latina girlfriend, Havana (Jessica Ledon), has been fooling around with the sleazy cop who sent him down (Cary Crankson). That’s the central story, yet the standout turns come from a lazy-lidded Benjamin Cawley, as Blaz’s morally bankrupt bezzie, and the striking Sheila Atim, who somehow sells an epiphanic monologue about being rimmed. Not all the tics and tricks work, but the writing hooks you from the off.