Fresh from Hampstead theatre I feel compelled to express my views about Gary Lennon's sexually charged '.45'. The intimate environment is created immediately due to the small and 'living room' style space of the Michael Frayn downstairs studio of Hampstead theatre- the space really allows the spectator to become a fly on the wall and experience the sheer heat that is created by Lennons intriguing and enigmatic characters. We are shown a glimpse of Hells Kitchen New York 1977, created by a dirty and decrepit apartment set and accompanied by a soundtrack evocative of the New York Punk Rock era. The cast were truly brilliant - consisting of femme fatale Pat , played exquisitely by The Tudor's Natalie Dormer, Dormer evokes a great sense of heroism- she is both strong and dominant yet we are able to see the flickers of a tormented human, Pat is fatally attracted to the poisonous Ed ( Daniel Caltagirone) who plays the 'thug' flawlessly, mixing both sexual tension and violence to create a character that you can both fear and be intrigued and almost attracted by. The couples chemistry is so life like that it you become directly effected by the violence, passion and betrayal experienced in their relationship throughout the progression of the performance.
Disturbing the sexual tension from the beginning is feisty , punk rocker lesbian and best friend of Pat , Vic (Katie Wimpenny) . Wimpenny brings a cheeky, adolescent and infectious character to the stage to dilute the tense and steamy atmosphere. Vic is in love with Pat and is desperate to remove her from her mercurial and violent relationship. Vic along with other best friend Reilley ( Chris Reilly) provide light relief in the intensely heated atmosphere created by Dormer and Caltagirone.
The broad NY accents of the protagonists are flawless along with their performances, however the perfection of the performance was broken due to the entrance of a rather miscast estranged psychiatrist Kat ( Emma Powell) whose entrance seemed to remind me of the fourth wall in front of me, her first scene broke the ever growing tension that was so brilliantly created by the other actors, and her weak attempt at an American accent began to destroy my illusion of Hells Kitchen -which prior to her entrance was extremely vivid and realistic. Her supposed sexual relationship with Pat seemed forced and awkward- and only further showed the talents of Dormer in her ability to react to such a flat performance.
However the powerful relationships and interactions created by the actors and beautiful writing shone through and made the play a real must see and a truly memorable performance!
Hats off to director Wilson Milam for creating a wonderfully entertaining show.