Unreachable – a fascinating theatrical experiment that represents ego and art without being overbearing

Anthony Neilson’s hilarious new play is about a director going through a difficult time. It is like a rush of blood to the head. After five weeks of much publicised unscripted rehearsals there’s no point in resisting – and there’s no need – because it is captivating.

Matt Smith in Unreachable

Matt Smith in Unreachable

As is the way with these things, it’s hard to get a proper feel for a play of this nature  on one viewing, but ‘Unreachable’ feels like a genuine attempt to steal the 2016 theatre throne, as well as being the kind of gloriously all over the shop production that you often get when the country’s acting and production cream of the crop decide that they all want to get involved with a writer while the theatre iron is extremely hot.

Is ‘Unreachable’ difficult to grasp? No. Neilson’s theme, in fact, is less than the crippling uncertainty that stems from not being comfortable in your skin. Leading a fine cast, Matt Smith is superb as the lost and troubled Maxim, intoxicating and uncomfortable to watch, like the show itself.

Though it suffers from tonal inconsistency everything is elevated by an excellent cast. There are off-kilter moments throughout, you’d expect that, but the subject matter and the hilarious performance of Jono O’Neill as Ivan goes a long way toward forgiving the play’s strange anomalies. This is an entertainingly alive psychodrama that hits many of the beats, but lacks depth.

The potency of the evening is magnified by Chloe Lamford’s monochrome design, in which black and white wash the set and cast, and four metallic screens frame the action on the stage. And like all Nielson’s work, this is likely to be a constant work in progress.
I’m already looking forward to the second coming of this show. Seriously, well done all concerned.

Unreachable is at the Royal Court, London, until August 6.
To book tickets, visit  www.royalcourtheatre.com or call 020 7565 5000