'The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith' review or 'Isn't your plan a bit sketchy?'

The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith, Miran Hadzic
Old Red Lion Theatre, 24th September 2014
Written for Time Out  



Sound the live poultry claxon! ‘The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith’ tracks the demise of disenchanted trader Ridley, who decides to quit his job and become an artist after he meets mysterious stranger Freddy. Ridley goes nuts and ends up talking to a chick – a real live chick! Unfortunately, this chick episode is the most memorable scene of the night.

British Bosnian writer Miran Hadzic has spent two years writing ‘Ridley’, commissioned by the bods at The Old Red Lion, and it feels a little tired. Obviously, the idea of a trader driven nuts by the ethical implications of his industry is a timely one (ish). But lots of the scenes are reiterative and Katherine Armitage’s production needs more bite.

The sparkiest encounters are between posh trader Ridley (Tom Machell) and artist Freddy (Stewart Lockwood), who Ridley initially mistakes for a tramp. Their early scenes, played out against Georgia de Grey’s monochrome and trippy set, are enjoyably unsettling. Lockwood speaks at a stretched out pace and his strange utterances ping with possibility.

Otherwise, it’s all a little bland and drawn out. The scenes between Ridley and his boss Janet (Terry Diab) feel familiar and flabby and sexy dancer Sylvie (Lottie Vallis) is barely incorporated into the play and does little more than, well, dance. Annoyingly, director Armitage has a strange habit of setting up one scene before the previous one ends. It doesn’t really work and eliminates the element of surprise from an already ploddy play.

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