Hope Light and Nowhere

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2013

A boy plays alone in a grim basement. It's unclear why he's there or how he's connected to the young man that arrives to torment and then calm him. The presence of another visitor later on—a sightless old man whom we suspect is a corpse risen from the grave—is more puzzling still. 

This ambiguity is compelling, but it's frustrating too. The most satisfying moments in Hope Light and Nowhere are when these mysterious characters recount stories from their lives outside the basement, offering clues as to their relationships and how they came to be here.

What they reveal is dark and unexpected. The young man's account of the abuse he received as a child comes out of nowhere at the end of a story that aches with nostalgia. He is that little boy again and we are right there with him. Ben Lee shows extraordinary commitment in this role: a fizzing bundle of rage and neurosis, every tic and twitch an indicator of past trauma.

Andrew Sheridan's writing is undeniably strong but we've been here before. Philip Ridley covered this ground over 20 years ago in The Pitchfork Disney, his shocking debut about two brothers living a fantasy existence in a grimy East London bedsit. Hope Light and Nowhere is an impressive homage to that play, but adds too little to the mix to truly impress in own right. Keep an eye on Sheridan though – there are clearly good things to come from this one.