Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Going Straight

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


The Nonentities begin their Autumn programme with a shockingly good play, Going Straight.

TV writer Richard Harris’s play is set in the 80s on the Costa Del Crime, when two retired British villains, Mickey and Ray reacquaint after a lifetime of wrong doing. It seems like just a friendly holiday at Mickey’s Spanish Villa and a time to reminisce about the old days, but there’s a twist to the reunion when along comes Polly.

She’s a young TV researcher looking for their authentic, creative input into a new crime thriller film, but something seems odd about her to the wily old henchman Ray.

Comically, their wives Francine and Brenda enjoy a continual stream of sarcastic comments directed at one another while the lads banter on about their life of crime.

It’s shockingly good for several reasons. The opening lines are full of profanities as you might expect from two hardened villains and whilst Harris might have been going for authenticity in his characters, it seems a little over done.

Martin Salter though plays the shifty and overbearing Mickey with the punchy aggression that’s needed. Mickey’s hiding a secret from his pal Ray and whilst it takes some time to be revealed, it adds real spice to the close of the play.

Ray played nicely by David Wilkes is the ex-quiet heavy. Always in Mickey’s shadow his health is now fading and even though being snubbed by not being invited to Mickey’s wedding and ignored the past two years, he seems ever faithful. Mr Wilkes had gone for a full-on buzz cut hair style, giving him a more menacing appeal.


Francine played smartly by Jennifer Groome, is the new wife of Mickey. She’s lucky enough to never have been involved in her new husband’s past escapades, but shrewd enough to recognise what his ill-gotten gains can give her in the Spanish sunshine.

Hannah Tolley played Brenda, the ever-seething wife of Ray. She’s had to suffer back in the UK with her husband doing time and her undercurrent of jealousy and vitriol towards Francine and Mickey, spills out into some sharp and well played exchanges with the pair.

Finally there’s Polly played by Jessica Bishop. Polly’s not what she appears to be and although intimidated by the men at first, its she who will get the last laugh.

Directed by Patrick Bentley and Bob Graham this twisty thriller is a little long and wordy in the first act. There’s little to keep your interest except tales of the old days and setting you up dramatically and technically for the second act. Eventually though the fireworks start to fly onstage and outside of the Spanish villa. Perhaps this is all down to Richard Harris’s style of TV writing which focuses primarily on seated central dialogue.

None the less the company make the most of this engaging, gritty play about old loyalties and new betrayals and they never flinch from the extremes of their characters. It’s certainly a spicy, adult themed opener for the Nonentities new season. To 17-09-22.

Jeff Grant


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