This is the second run of The Firm at The Hampstead Downstairs– same director, Denis Lawson but a fresh new cast. Written by Roy Williams, it premiered two years ago and its back for more. In a nutshell The Firm is the story of the reunion of a bunch of ageing crims who have gathered together in Gus’s bar for a party for Shaun, one of the gang who has just been released from prison.
The Firm is well written and lively and the banter is on point and funny.
It’s been about 12 years since they last met and apart from Top boy Gus, (Ray Fearon) who has a fancy ride parked outside, a daughter in private school and owns the bar they are drinking in, things don’t appear to have gone particularly swimmingly for any of them. Trent has an uninspiring 9-5, Les is unemployed and dating his probation officer and Selwyn works in a supermarket.
Everyone arrives and we hear a little about them and their lives. There’s lots of reminiscing about the good old days and ‘The wall’ which was their centre of bent operations until it was torn down to make way for luxury flats. Selwyn has brought a youngster along and introduces him to them all as his nephew but it soon becomes apparent that this cocky ‘younger’ is actually not quite who he seems… he has had interactions with each of them before.
The Firm is well written and lively and the banter is on point and funny. The themes touch on brotherhood, male relationships and gang culture – old and new; interestingly juxtaposing the absence of moral codes, Yesteryears ‘honour amongst thieves’ versus todays ‘postcode’ wars. It’s bursting with umm… ‘colourful’ language to say the least, and packs a powerful punch at times, emotions are raw and conflicts explosive.
Decent play with some first-class performances
My favourite characters are the ones that introduce the play, Gus and the white wide boy, Les (Jay Simpson) these are the two that bring amazing presence and realism to their roles. Special mention and props has to go to Makir Ahmed who plays the teenager Fraser really well – insolently with a touch of menace, definitely a talent to watch out for in the future.
Decent play with some first-class performances – well worth a go-see. I think Shaun, the guest of honour who never turned up, proper missed out!