Tender Napalm, Philip Ridley’s latest tour de force, is an utterly absorbing explosion of physicality and language.
The audience, ranged in rows on either side of a long bare ‘war zone’ with only a chair at each end and fluorescent strips overhead, are cast as voyeurs as Man and Woman wrestle and caress, maim and heal one another.
Raw passion and sexual chemistry fizzes between the charismatic fragile couple Tom Byam Shaw and Lara Rossi whose compelling performances (tightly directed by David Mercatali and choreographed by Tom Godwin) are a rollercoaster ride through emotion and fantasy.
The superb Byam Shaw is at once knowing and childlike, strutting through action man hero stuff and alien abduction to meltingly vulnerable denouncement and palpable pain while Rossi is at once queen of her fantasy island, TOWIE would-be and heart-stoppingly tender.
Not for the faint-hearted, this is a brutal and grim, energetic and lyrical intense 85-minute expose of a relationship under extreme stress, a couple re-finding themselves and each other, and coming to terms with the harsh fact of the here and now through fantastical tales anchored in reality.