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A Most Pressing Issue Review

Reviewed by Lauren Russell


‘A Most Pressing Issue’ is a dark satire following four foolish prison workers, their incompetence within the system, and how ridiculously destructive humans can be just by doing nothing at all. 

A cocktail of quick wit and utter silliness written by Tim Harris, the narrative follows the Warden of a men’s prison played by Harris and his trusty assistant Oli played by the comedic Matt Williams, as they seem to do anything but their job: put out the prison fire. The text is clever, never missing the opportunity for a laugh, and lives up to being a ‘love letter to the comedic greats’ by resembling the complexity and comedy of popular plays like Waiting for Godot and Dumb Waiter.

The set gave an air of mystery upon entering the Studio stage at New Wimbledon Theatre. A dark wooden chest sat center stage surrounded by a filing cabinet, fire hydrant and guitar - bizarrely intriguing. The 1920’s telephone and the electric fan made it hard to gather a sense of time, which lends itself to the play’s references to the timeless cycle we are subject to as people living in a repetitive system which is so reluctant to evolve. 

‘I’m here to do what the guy before me did, and the guy before that.’ The Warden protagonist Penton admits to his assistant, and only friend, Oli. Their relationship being ludicrous and chaotic, at the same time as being heartfelt and melancholy at times, it often subtly addresses men’s mental health problems. Penton’s arrogance and Oli’s idiocy is hilariously frustrating, as they faff around whilst the prison burns, and refuse to take any accountability.

Other prison worker’s included a frightfully seductive woman from HR played by Natasha Mula, and the airhead Sergeant played by James De Burca, both very strong and committed performers, and the contrast in the characters personalities a great recipe for comedy by Harris.

The irregular breaking of the fourth wall caught me off guard; this is not a relax-in-your-seat sitcom. This play is a laugh out loud on the edge of your seat clownish whirlwind, driven by Harris’ physical comedy and spot on clowning by Williams. A comedy highlight being his fire fighting sequence, where the audience followed Oli’s ridiculous thought process through William’s hilarious facial expressions. 

A successfully funny and ingenious piece of new writing - refreshing to watch. I urge you not to miss the next performance of this captivating comedy! 

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