I didn’t see Mark Rylance’s performance in Jerusalem, so I can’t compare Denise Gough’s spectacular turn in People, Places, Things to it but I’m not sure I need to. Gough can stand alone. She is simply astounding in this play by Duncan Miller. On stage for almost the entirety of it, she is never less than utterly compelling to watch and at no point flags in the visceral energy she imbues this fantastic, female role with.
Gough is initially Emma, an unsuccessful actress with a myriad of addictions. Having messed up Chekov’s The Seagull, she reluctantly checks into rehab and undergoes cold turkey. And it’s laugh out loud funny.
Yes, funny. This is a funny tragedy of a play, a clever, thoughtful story about the thoughtless. The writer treats his audience’s intelligence with respect, throwing out ideas and language with relish fully expecting to be understood without spoon-feeding or bludgeoning with a hammer.
Stuck in the drab rehab facility with a doctor and therapist, who are possibly projections of her mother , Emma meets an odd assortment of fellow addicts and is forced to confront herself through a 12 step programme she considers beneath her cultured intelligence.
How does she fare? Go see ‘People Places and Things’ and find out. Escaping your reality and see if Emma escapes hers. You won’t be disappointed.
Wyndhams theatre until June 18th