Written and directed by Scot Williams
Showing at Royal Court
6th-30th March 2013

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Hope is written and directed by Scot Williams, starring Mark Womack, Rene Zagger, and Samantha Womack, with Williams himself playing the unnamed lover of the title character Hope. It centres around a writer Norm (Womack), who is suffering from writer's block and insomnia and takes his frustrations out on his supply teacher flatmate Guy (Zagger) - a meddling and unrelenting nuisance. Samantha Womack plays Hope, their flighty, sexy lodger who teases them all with her secret.

It would be fair to say that this is a play for writers, more academic than your usual Royal Court production, very wordy and fast paced, with multiple references to literature's greatest heroes and writers. It made me laugh when Guy talked Norm through the two hundred or so writers who have committed suicide, after commenting on the fact that although he has ‘the day job’ as a supply teacher, he doesn’t want to be a writer – he is a writer. His repulsion when the other characters mention the old rule of “those who can do and those who can’t teach” rings true to any writer who has ever thought of jacking it all in to leave the heartache of writing behind to explain Mark Twain to a class of sixteen year olds. Guy's character was captivating; I couldn’t take my eyes from him as he pranced about the stage in his dressing gown and Ugg boots, his arguments against Womack's Norm were the highlight of the production. The two actors bounced off each other as they debated writer's block, drinking and loneliness. Norm's frustration at Guy was perfectly animated by Womack - every wry smile and grimace as Guy wittered on was clearly visible and beautifully created. Guy's determination to put Norm back on the path to a sober and successful life is admirable, and Zagger's performance was definitely the show stealer.

Samantha Womack was not as present on the stage as the massive poster on the side of the theatre would lead us to believe, but her portrayal of the playful and tricky Hope was well delivered, if albeit brief. She played the sexually aware and astute Hope wonderfully, from the way she fell through the front door with her lover to her manipulation of Guy; she pulled it off with aplomb. Williams played the all knowing role of Hope's lover; he had a knack of wafting in, summarising the situation and just as quickly as he had given his worldly advice he was exiting the stage again for a cigarette or a bath.

Hope was proficiently written and Williams did his subject very proud. The twist at the end was spoiled for me during the interval by a loudmouth so-called friend of Williams, I will not do the same for you here, but to say this play is the best I have seen at the Royal Court in many years goes a little way to explain its appeal. With a very talented cast, beautiful intelligent writing, and a firm grip on the reality of a struggling writer, it is no wonder this fantastic play has had its run extended already!

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Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Scot Williams on 22nd March, 2013 at 16:13
Hi Jennifer. Very glad you enjoyed the show. So sorry the ending was spoiled for you. Needless to say, no friend of MINE would have done that. Scot