The scribblings and sketches of Miriam Gillinson, arts journalist
'Terms and Conditions' review or 'This small print is SCREWED.'
'Terms and Conditions', Patrick Marmion
White Bear Theatre, Friday 15th November
Written for Time Out
‘Terms and Conditions’, written by journalist Patrick Marmion, depicts a Daily Mail reader’s worst nightmare. A perfectly civil dinner party is ruined when Kat and Walter discover a strange old man in their cellar. He is large and smelly and comes from a ‘very small country very far away’. The immigrants have landed.
There’s no room in this middle class couple’s smug, Smeg fridge existence for a foreign imposter. Things get very odd very quickly. Walter (Jermaine Dominique) has weird dreams about vegetables, Kat (Jennie Gruner) goes a bit bonkers and their son enters another world via a confession box at Church.
Marmion’s bold play explores the UK’s burgeoning paranoia about immigration, whilst also roaming off to some wacky places. It is a slippery piece, though, and Simon Usher’s direction could be more fluid. There are a few excellent and unsettling touches: the son is played by a woman (Charlotte Brimble) and a spooky soundscape pulses when Walter describes his dreams. But there are too many straightforward scenes, which feel flat and mundane in comparison.
Victoria Walsh impresses as poised but goggle-eyed shrink Liz, who’s on the verge of cracking up herself. Mike Burnside, as immigrant Liv, looks like a cross between Father Christmas and an ageing maestro. There’s something brilliantly unreachable about this performance. When he tells the couple’s son a story about a plant made up of tiny snakes, it’s hard to tell if it’s meant to comfort the boy – or keep him up all night.