Fight Face - a review

A re-cycled set emblazoned with graffiti, slide projections and animation is the setting for the talented Sophie Woolley's Fight Face. The action takes place in and around Real Taste, a take-away where the long-suffering Jenghis works. His first customer is the mouthy Leanne from Essex who is primed for a fight describing herself as "I've got taste, not like this place". Over the night arguments ensue between strangers, a kaleidoscope of characters brilliantly drawn by Woolley. The performances in 'Fight Face' are superlative. Sophie Woolley and David Rubin morph between characters with such expertise I had to remind myself that this was a cast of only two people.

Tabitha is an East London artist, posh, edgy and brittle. Jerry is a gutter drunk mourning the death of a pole dancer. Rob and Jim are two builders, the comedy duo of the piece, who watch benignly as the action unfolds. Jim is satisfied watching women and being "man and drill, at one with concrete". Helen is a new mother with a baby who won't stop crying and sadly describes herself as " I'm good at quizzes but I can't do men very well". The estranged Natalia and Tomek argue about a dog and a cat. Carl is in Tabitha's words 'a hoody' whose violence tendencies progress as the play progresses. Eric and Mary are a pair of cops, inept and formal. All, with the exception of Rob and Jim, have something fundamental missing from their lives.

Woolley's strength is in describing extremes of human behaviour as both comedic and sad. She is especially gifted in creating women characters on the edge of sanity. 'Fight Face' is not merely a comedy, it pushes the boundaries of surreal story telling to a nightmarish conclusion. The script is sparkling with wit and cutting social observation.

Jenghis finally reveals his own murderous fantasies in response to the meaningless existences he witnesses saying "You are dead, prepare to die and then I give them some chips." and then more poignantly, the most resonant comment in the whole of 'Fight Face' "I know who to kill but who do I save?"

When Jerry meets Tabitha she greets him with a nihilistic "I'm Tabitha. Life's shit, isn't it?". The climax is both tragic and darkly comedic and Tabitha's dramatic demise forces us to look at the pretentious and self-indulgent in a wonderfully caustic way.