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  • Writer's pictureEstelle Luck

REVIEW: JAB @ FINBOROUGH THEATRE

🎭 Jab 

📍 Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, West Brompton, London, SW10 9ED

🗓 Sunday 3rd March 2024

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



A POWERFUL REMINDER OF DARK TIMES


In this play written by James McDermott, audiences are plunged back to the very start of lockdown in 2020. The opening sees wife Anne, played by Kacey Ainsworth, and husband Don, played by Liam Tobin, settling down – wine glasses in hand – to watch the news that England will be going into lockdown. 


At the start, the couple seem to have a relatively close bond – laughing together and dancing around their living room to tunes from the ‘80s. But as time passes, and as they stray deeper into lockdown, their relationship comes under strain.


Anne’s profession means that she has to keep working whereas Don, the owner of a vintage clothes shop, is unable to. Anne clearly resents that she is and has always been the primary earner of the household, and she continues to make cutting remarks to her husband about paying all the bills. 


The pandemic seems to make Don feel emasculated which leads him to try to reassert his ‘manliness’ sexually and sometimes, violently. Anne, who is going through the menopause, isn’t interested and is, quite frankly, repulsed by this new side to her husband. The disparity between the pair only gets worse when Don refuses to get vaccinated – a decision that brings darker consequences than either of them could have imagined. 


The play gives us an up-close-and-personal look at the impact of the pandemic on a long-married couple. We see how the home, a supposedly safe space, becomes filled with tension and sadness. 



The script is full of banterous remarks that cross over into being insulting. Tihis makes for an interesting balance of humour and hurt. Ainsworth and Tobin deliver these lines beautifully and in my opinion, gel very well as actors – in turn making for a very believable couple. You can imagine a similar situation unfolding in homes up and down the country.


The set is simple but effective – made up of four different kinds of chairs. At the start, these are laid out in a row and the couple sit next to each other, drinking wine and watching telly. As the play progresses and the emotional distance between them increases, the chairs end up separated and are placed at various points across the square stage. The couple slump down, their backs to each other while they pick fights. This all builds up to the play’s climax, which is fraught with emotion and serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of the pandemic. 


For a lot of people, the period of the pandemic feels like a distant memory and one that we don’t want to relive. But whether we like it or not, it is part of our history. The different variants, vaccination names and talk of large derelict buildings being turned into hospitals were all things my mind had put to one side. I’m grateful for the reminder of what we went through so that I can better appreciate the world we live in today. For this reason, and the fact that it’s extremely well acted and put together, I’d thoroughly recommend seeing this play.


Jab is showing at the Finborough Theatre until Saturday 16 March. Get your tickets here.


Estelle Luck


All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.


My ticket for this performance of Jab was gifted by the Finborough Theatre who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.



CAST LIST:

Kacey Ainsworth as Anne; Liam Tobin as Don


RUNNING TIME (approx):

1 hour 20 minutes, with no interval


CONTENT WARNINGS:

Refrences to the COVID-19 pandemic including vaccinations and lockdowns; Death; Grief; Domestic violence; Scenes of a sexual nature; Mild Language



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