Cromie's award-winning writing is supported by a stellar castDavid Swarbrick

Spoiler Alert, Charlotte Cromie’s latest play and the winner of this year’s Footlights’ Harry Porter Prize, shows us the life of Maddy (Anna Wright), a primary school teacher who has suddenly developed prophetic powers (minus the ‘problematic religious connotations’). Oddly enough, this does not make her life easier and her newfound powers and prophetic friends cause varying degrees of trouble in her life. With this show already being a prize-winner, my expectations were high going in, and while it was not quite the perfect show, it was still very enjoyable. The comedy was consistently funny (which is not as easy as it sounds), and when the more dramatic moments came along, the cast handled them just as capably.

Wright’s performance as the clairvoyant teacher anchored the whole show excellently, both believable in her sincerity of someone dealing with real(ish) issues and still just absurd enough to keep the ridiculous tone of the show intact. Alex Franklin as her boyfriend Jim leans into this absurd style slightly more, and he certainly seems more comfortable in the moments of more frantic energy, as in the first scene where he desperately tries to remember Maddy’s name three years into their relationship. Nevertheless, both deal with the more serious scenes towards the end of the show just as well, reminding us of the difficult reality this world is based in. Aside from the two leads, Spoiler Alert has a large cast of ensemble players, most multi-roling, and the standout of these is undoubtedly Ben Martineau as fellow prophet Rob and Steve, the would-be participant in Maddy and Jim’s threesome. Martineau created some of the show’s biggest laughs, including an excellently delivered mishearing of the word ‘foresight’, and he deserves a great deal of credit for some very impressive quick changes right at the end. Generally, the entire ensemble does well, although there were a few times where volume took precedent over comedy. Almost everyone was guilty of looking a little too much out into the audience and not at the rest of the cast, but this is nit-picking in the extreme. The cast does an excellent job as a whole, and any weaker parts were quickly moved on from with great energy and commitment.

Luckily, these weaker moments were few and far between. Maddy’s realisations of what her students will become – a Daily Mail editor (shudder) – and her Prophetics Anonymous meetings separate the domestic scenes with her and Jim, and keep the comedy coming thick and fast. Cromie never really slows comedically, and while some scenes are naturally funnier than others, I can’t really point to any as ‘not funny’. The dramatic conclusion, however, in which (spoiler alert!) comes up rather suddenly, and feels a little too unearned.

The main difficulty I found in the show was what we are meant to think of Jim. Franklin’s inherent niceness in the role makes him very likeable but Cromie’s script seems to want us to dislike him by his actions. The ambiguity is interesting – it is, after all, difficult to be in Jim’s position: how would any of us handle our partner becoming prescient and seeing our death all the time? – but a side could have been picked a little more definitively. Nonetheless, the script as whole is remarkably strong.

Overall, this is a very fun show. Cromie’s script tracks well as a story, carrying the audience along with plenty of laughs and still leaves an uplifting message at the end. The performances only help this: they are consistently charming and funny, and the whole production comes together effectively to both tell a nice story and to ably entertain an audience. Other than one mis-positioned light, which means two scenes were performed with the actors almost in complete darkness, I cannot think of any major problems with the show and that is testament to the strong writing and performances on display here. Buy a ticket and go see this show because, spoiler alert, you’ll have a really good time.

Spoiler Alert is on at the ADC Theatre until 10 March

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