Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

My best fiend

Plus: a witless cage fight that is a potential gold mine: Fury reviewed

Anthony Neilson is an Arts Council favourite known for trivial but impenetrable plays with off-putting names like The Wonderful World of Dissocia. His latest effort has another hazard-warning instead of a title. Unreachable starts with an actress auditioning for a dystopian sci-fi movie set in a clichéd future. She lands the role and we cut to the film-lot where more clichés await. Pretentious director Max is furious because the sun won’t stay in one place and he decides to ditch his digital cameras and film instead on old-fashioned celluloid. The shoot is suspended while producers scrabble around for emergency funding. This self-involved storyline would be unbearable if it weren’t for the charming whimsicality of Matt Smith as Max. He develops a minor crush on his leading lady, whose cynical attitude to her trade is coolly refreshing. ‘If you want me to feel something, pay me.’ Their dialogue has flashes of coarse wit. The actress claims to dislike babies because ‘they cry, suck tits and shit themselves’. Max says he knows thesps who do little else. The psychological details of the characters begin to fall into place. Max was raised as an orphan and his tantrums are a ploy to win him the emotional reassurance he needs. He’s mothered by his executive producer (Amanda Drew), who relies on the lead cameraman for rough-sex liaisons that are kept scrupulously secret from Max. These layers of intrigue and manipulation are all too realistic between close colleagues. The script seems to be settling down as a cheerful backstage comedy when Max makes a fatal decision.

He hires Ivan (also known as ‘the Brute’), who surges up through the floorboards like a cherubic madman, his blond locks stiffened with hairspray, his shirt ripped open to the waist. Ivan is an ungovernable heap of pretention whose Slavic name and German accent recall the ghost of Klaus Kinski.

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