Sublime, at the Tristan Bates Theatre (review)

Sublime is a new play by Sarah Thomas, directed by Ben SantaMaria, which has had its first run at the Tristan Bates Theatre.  It is a story about two siblings who carry out heists together.

sublime

Sam and Sophie are brother and sister and have grown up in a criminal lifestyle, mentored by their uncle Vic after their mother died.  Sophie has been away for 2 years, latterly in Corsica, and Sam hardly seems to be over the moon to see her again. Sam makes out as if he has settled down to an office job and a girlfriend who is ignorant of his previous life, however we find out later on that he has continued to dabble in crime.  Sophie reveals that she has reappeared due to some bad business in Corsica, which requires her to find a great deal of money by the end of the week.  Sam is lured back to working on three jobs with her, culminating in a very big trick which involves stealing some of the jewellery from the Hatton Garden heist (the real one which happened in 2015) from a club in South London called Sublime.

There are a lot of good things to say about Sublime.  Sophie is played by Adele Oni and holds your attention throughout. She is seductive and sexy and moves around the stage confidently (no doubt due in part to her training as a dancer).  I also enjoyed the laughs given by Sam’s straight-laced, paleo-dieting girlfriend Clara (Suzy Gill), who is also quite a poignant character:  Sam is not exactly being honest with her, and when we meet her father (Declan Cooke) we see that he hardly treats her nicely either.

There is great potential in the writing, however there are holes in the plot and I would have preferred a shorter, snappier version of the two acts and over two hours that we have here.  For instance, without giving away too much, Sophie is supposed to be on a deadline to get thousands of pounds together by Sunday and, when this doesn’t quite happen, there do not seem to be any repercussions or fear of repercussions.  Without this fear or some pretty bad consequences, the whole drive of the play doesn’t work.  There is also the sub-plot about the relationship between the brother and sister. It is clear that it is not a usual relationship, and the hints about the incestuous love are not subtle, but it seems to overpower the plot about the heist. Sarah Thomas is so keen to avoid an expected ending that, after it is all over, I find myself wondering what actually happened in the end with the Hatton Garden jewels, why was there a sub-plot about the platinum ring, and what was the point about the wine deal and Clara’s father?

I understand there are limitations in a theatre, with a cast of four, but you never see any details of what goes on in a heist. It sometimes feels a bit like the two main characters can talk the talk, but you also want to see them walk the walk.

I am full of admiration for any young playwright and with just a bit more editing I think Sublime will improve yet. Its cast does a good job, particularly Adele Oni. I hear that Thomas is writing the screenplay for Sublime the film. Watch out for it!

hattydaze rating: ***/*****

I attended Sublime on a press ticket for Ginger Wig and Strolling Man. Sublime played at the Tristan Bates Theatre until 8th April 2017.

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