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Precious Little Talent

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Ella Hickson's Eight transferred to Trafalgar Studios and - thanks to its Carol Tambor prize - New York following its acclaimed 2008 Edinburgh Fringe run. Her her second play, Precious Little Talent, written on the eve of her graduation, now follows it into the Trafalgar space.

Joey (Olivia Hallinan) is part of a deserted generation, seizing New Labour's promise of access to Higher Education her opportunities are squandered by a faltering economy. A high achiever, her first class degree can't help her hold down a bar job. Alienated by her mother's second marriage, she seeks refuge with her estranged father George (Ian Gelder), an academic who has fled to New York.

Anthony Welsh delivers a charming performance as George's young American carer, sparring with Hallinan before winning her over. As employer, and Joey's father, Gelder captures a man falling apart before his time, having good days and bad days and blowing hot and cold. With a likeable performance Welsh outshines the other half of his rom-com couple, and there is a spark missing amongst the trio to really make the relationships work.

Hickson's scenes are well paced and packed with natural and observed dialogue, which James Dacre casually breaks with dark and atmospheric scene changes. Emma Laxton's sound design and music choice help build New York around Lucy Osborne's cleverly designed set - a sliver of George's apartment cuts diagonally across the studio.

Despite being reworked two years on from its original creation, Hickson draws the piece to a close with a muted pair of monologues. An almost revelatory ending, she had already drawn us in and would have been more than welcome to continue exploring her characters and the worlds they were struggling to exist in.


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