Photo credit: Georgia Harris. Sharon Duffy & Danielle Williams pictured
Last night I saw Tripped Theatre Company’s ‘Harley and Me’ at the Lion and Unicorn, a new play by Lucy Walters. Tripped Theatre are using the staging of this play to raise awareness of Solace, a charity that helps women and children in London build safe and strong lives, free from male abuse and violence. This association gives a very big hint about the content of the play.
Very firmly set in the US, Harley has been arrested. She has been locked away in a room waiting for the Doctor’s assessment of her state of mind and whether she should be considered a danger to others. As the story unfolds we discover that Harley is in an abusive and manipulative relationship with Jay, and he is the reason for her current incarceration.
Danielle Williams gives an energetic performance as the unhinged Harley. It is hard to decipher the truth from the reality at times, something that is in keeping with the theme of delusion and the lies we tell ourselves. Although how delusional is Harley really? While as a character, Harley is a tad over the top, it is in her more vulnerable moments that Danielle Williams’ shines.
Sharon Duffy plays the Doctor, an unnamed character and you can’t help thinking there is more to her, something that is never really resolved or clarified. She remains fairly one dimensional, more of a foil to Harley than a fully fleshed character in her own right. I can help wishing Sharon Duffy was given more to play with, although her restrained performance does balance out Harley’s dramatics.
Harley feels like a character that would be more at home in the DC Universe than a London stage. This production delivers the play in a pacey way, that kept me engaged throughout, but there is a lack of cohesion that made it confusing in places, even with Georgia Leanne Harris’ clean and pared back direction. I can’t help thinking this would work better as a film, given the multiple flashbacks and action sequences, which don’t quite come together on a small stage.
There are interesting ideas in ‘Harley and Me’ but they are under explored, making the play feel one-dimensional. This doesn’t stop it being entertaining. Lucy Walters clearly has a talent for dark comedy, and I was hooked throughout wondering where the play was going. Unfortunately, for me, the pay off simply wasn’t there.
‘Harley and Me’ runs at the Lion and Unicorn at 7.30pm until 26th October. With a running time of around 50 minutes, you’d have plenty of time for a nice spot of pub food afterwards.