07 April 2016 – 30 April 2016

by Brad Birch

"Paul Miller’s Orange Tree gave us Pomona, a dark hole in the middle of the city, and now it offers The Brink, a dark hole full of secrets and anxieties that we all carry around inside us.

Playwright Brad Birch has just been announced as the recipient of the Harold Pinter Commission to write a play for the Royal Court, and The Brink – given a wonderfully jittery, skittery production by Mel Hillyard to match the text – shows exactly why. It has a distinctive ping, like an alarm clock on the blink. It’s very funny, too.

"Hyemi Shin’s design, consisting of four glowing cubes, adds to the heightened atmosphere in a short, sharp, shockingly entertaining play that dances along the tightrope between reality and unreality." Lyn Gardner, Guardian

"this remarkably deft new play from Brad Birch... a taut psychological thriller and a searingly astute parable about life in Generation Y... Birch’s script is howl-inducingly funny and so well observed I thought I saw flickers of mild panic cross the faces of the audience’s twenty-somethings, as they wondered who’d been eavesdropping on their conversations...

The play’s four performers are excellent. Ciarán Owens’ Nick is a tangled ball of angst whose chirpy veneer cracks slowly and agonisingly; Alice Haig has us wondering whether to condemn Jo’s self-interest or congratulate her pragmatism. Shvorne Marks is impressively flexible, doubling as ambitious, exasperated Chloe, and shy student Jessica. The biggest laughs of the night, though, go to Vince Leigh – infuriating as Nick’s headteacher, and deliciously loathsome as Chloe’s boss Martin, who spouts pseudo-business babble and slow-cooks everything in a Masterchef water bath." Lucinda Everett, The Telegraph

"It’s jagged, hurtling, crammed with sardonic laughter and gibbering fear. Mel Hillyard’s stylish, streamlined production matches the writing for breathless, jittery pace." Sam Marlowe, The Times

"picks you up and shakes you. It challenges you and then lingers long in your mind after you leave the theatre. It creates questions, starts conversations and is a quick, sharp look into the world of anxiety... Birch’s script is unsettlingly authentic and is packed to the brim with humour, even in the darkest moments... thrilling to watch... A must-see." Lily Hayes, A Younger Theatre

"Brad Birch remorselessly skewers the inertia of a man struggling with his role as a teacher while failing to grow up. But while the jokes come thick and fast, The Brink also dissects its protagonist with precision and refuses to provide easy answers... The Brink is a knotty but entertaining mix of stylised staging and naturalistic writing." Lauren Mooney, The Stage

"Mel Hillyard, the recipient of the 2015 JP Morgan Emerging Director Award, deftly translates Birch’s offbeat poeticism... Increasingy clammy and skittish, Ciarán Owens sympathetically communicates Nick’s struggle to cope with everyday life, There’s strong support from Vince Leigh as a supercilious headmaster and bumptious businessman, Alice Haig as a no-nonsense teacher, and Shvorne Marks as self-possessed Chloe and the shy pupil whose bond with Nick edges into inappropriate territory" Marianka Swain, The Arts Desk 

"Gloriously surreal satire from rising star Brad Birch... Ciarán Owens is endearingly bewildered and stubborn by turn. But his relentless need to tell the truth in a world full of puffery and pretensions makes him a kind of hero, too." Alice Saville, Time Out

"Ciarán Owens does a great job of conveying Nick’s descent into an increasingly frazzled bewilderment, and Mel Hillyard’s lean yet occasionally startling production savours the surrealism of the writing." Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

"Mel Hillyard’s pacy and uncluttered in-the-round production catches the tone of Birch’s writing perfectly and snappy well-timed delivery of his sharp dialogue brings an abundance of laughs, The Brink is a little gem, the lightness of the comedy on its surface contrasting beautifully with the darkness of its underlying themes." Stephen Bates, Reviews Hub

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