Crude, Loud, but Totally Hilarious: 'THE SUICIDE' at the National Theatre, Lyttelton

It feels rare these days to find a good, genuinely funny comedy play set in the modern day, but the National Theatre's latest comedic adventure The Suicide provides just that. Set in modern day London and with crude humour that reminds me of shows like The Inbetweeners, the play follows the story of mid-20 year old boy-next-door Sam who lives with his wife Maya and her mum Sarah.

Sam is unemployed and sees no purpose to his life. After a heated row with Maya, Sam travels to the roof of the high-rise building he lives in, contemplating suicide. After a young boy films him stood on the roof and the video becomes a viral YouTube hit, Sam must deal with the overnight fame that has come from his planned suicide attempt and must weigh-up what his next step should be. The show is fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny and a perfect example of the diverse kind of modern theatre that the National can produce.

The show itself works with an ensemble cast and just like all shows with a cast like this, they all need to be incredibly strong for it to work well and here, they do. Javone Prince gives a fantastic performance as Sam playing a man that most audience members can see themselves in; he's an average man - the everyman - and Prince's portrayl manages to make that charming and warm as well. Ashley McGuire plays his mother-in-law Sarah who is one of the funniest characters in the play: she's absolutely hilarious and is that character that you feel happy to see every single time she is on stage. Ayesha Antoine, Pooky Quesnel and Pal Aron are also standouts as well as the rest of the cast, all of which giving excellent comedic performances.

The ensemble of The Suicide

The staging of the play is something quite special and unique as well. Tenser and less funny moments are underscored with drum playing (by Sam Jones) to create a sense of pace. It's interesting and very unique, especially when he is backlit and revealed to be behind different walls in the flat throughout the piece, and it's an idea for a play that I don't think I've ever seen before: I enjoyed it. The same goes for how each new character was introduced, for whenever one came onto the stage, they posed for a photograph for no real reason. It had absolutely no relevance to the plot whatsoever, but it made for a funny moment and helped you to understand these people as soon as possible. After all, their selfish and loud personalities were the driving force through the majority of the play.

The visual aspect of the piece was enjoyable as well: as someone with a passion for real life being reconstructed on a smaller scale (random obsession of mine: model villages), the idea of two high-rise council flat buildings echoes back through my childhood. The same goes for the pokey flat that is wheeled forwards and backwards inbetween the high-rise flats on either side of the stage; the Lyttelton has an enormous stage, so it's nice to see the space be utilised so well. The stage is also lucky to have a deep pit under its apron which can be brought up for a sort of trap-door set to be revealed. It's used a lot in shows at the Lyttelton and it's always interesting to see how each production will use the facility, so it was cool to see it used this time round for a row of front doors inside one of the blocks of flats. Paule Constable also lends her hands to the lighting design, something that her Tony and four-time Olivier Award-winning hands are very good at doing with perfection.

All in all, The Suicide is a very competent and very funny piece of modern comedic theatre. It's a new play for the Inbetweeners generation and is definitely something for anyone with a funny bone.

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