Review: The Wasp


With the stealth of a killer moving through a darkened house, the stage thriller appears to making a comeback. Just as Hangmen transfers from the Royal Court to the West End, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's lip-biter makes a similar move, if on a much smaller scale, from the experimental downstairs stage at the Hampstead Theatre to downstairs at the Trafalgar Studios.

Heather (Laura Donnelly) has not been in touch with Carla (MyAnna Buring) since they were at school. Back then, supermarket worker Carla, now heavily pregnant with her fifth child, was middle class Heather's tormentor.

It was a role that Carla executed with such cruelty that, in Heather's eyes, it qualifies her to carry out the kind of brutal crime that would grace a Hitchcock movie.

It would be wrong to reveal too much plot here. But our first assumption is that childless Heather wants Carla to be a surrogate mother to her child.

This immediately raises the emotional stakes of this two-hander. Yet although Tom Attenborough's superbly acted production generates more tension than I can remember in a long time at the theatre, Malcolm's plot is psychologically flawed just when it needs to be at its most credible.

One of his characters, we are asked to believe, has an almost superhuman ability to manipulate the behaviour of the other.

Still, a more gripping uninterrupted 80 minutes at the theatre will be hard to find.

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