Jamie Tabberer

The Fastest Clock in the Universe

Jaime Winston - "Get the boys to come down, this play's as camp as Christmas."

Depicting a vision of London’s East End so sombre and dark it makes Eastenders look like an episode of the Care Bears, Philip Ridley’s allegorical presentation of dry, loveless urban foxes clashing spectacularly in a grim London flat packs a powerful punch, in Edward Dick’s winning Hampstead Theatre production.

The story of a pathological, youth-obsessed Dorian Gray a-like named Cougar (played to eerie perfection by Alec Newman – even his impressive body seems somewhat unsavoury, in the grainy, vein-throbbing way a bodybuilder’s might look…dehydration, perhaps?) who celebrates turning 19 (or should that be 30?) by getting a tan, plucking his grey hairs and bullying his frail, balding, English butler-esque roommate/sugar daddy Captain (played with touching humanity by Finbar Lynch) in to a stupor.

It’s a set-up laced with black humour that provokes plenty of stifled, uncomfortable laughs as 90s BBC comedy Bottom used to, with its similar illustration of two cohabiting life-losers who, like the Cougar and the Captain, share a paramount co-dependency yet an incredibly dysfunctional relationship.

Powerful performances all round, but it's little Jaime Winston who steals the show, proving once and for all that she’s good for more than hanging off Alfie Allen’s arm and prompting debate in the trash rags about the pros and cons of black lipstick.

She plays sour-faced chav Sherbert, the pregnant fiancé of the 15-year-old schoolboy Cougar has been grooming, the sole intended guest at his fake-birthday party. Sherbert turns up unannounced (in a pink, leopard skin hoodie I might add – amazing), keen to intercept the evil-Cougar as to protect her honour and her newfound obsession for ‘traditional things’ in the wake of an ugly sounding drug addiction.

Winston brings the character to life with her cocky swagger, piercing cackle and measured mastery of one the thickest East End accents ever known to mankind. Either the character or Jaime’s performance – one or the other, can’t decide which – will inevitably irritate once the novelty of her deadpan delivery of the word ‘babe’ gets old, but stick with it – the climax is unforgettable.

For a photo that relates to this review in no other way than the fact that Jaime appears in looking bare hilare and teeny tiny, click here

Hampstead Theatre, 17 Sept - 17 Oct, from £15

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