Review - Nul Points - The Union Theatre, London

Nul Points - The Union Theatre, London

"An Agreeable Appetiser for Eurovision Fans Enjoyment"

With Eurovision almost upon us, this new play by Martin Blackburn was the perfect warm up to the main event happening in a weeks’ time.

Josh- Kane Verrall – is nuts about Eurovision! So much so that he hosts a Eurovision party every year on the day of the legendary song contest to celebrate. He invites his two best friends from drama college who have just graduated with Josh, Kat – Charlotte East, and Daz – Marcus J Foreman, to join in the festivities. Kat’s writing is taking off, Daz is getting offered a lot of auditions and opportunities but is developing a fondness for booze which is threatening to derail him before he gets very far, and Josh hasn’t had much luck so far getting started on his career, but is initially optimistic.

We first join them in 2012, and then at subsequent Eurovision parties ending right up to date in 2023.

Ryder played raunchily by Sean Huddlestan, and Josh’s mother Gina played by Adele Anderson of Fascinating Aida fame, join in the celebrations throughout the play, and we watch as the relationships interweave and tensions build between them all. All to the milieu of Eurovision playing along in the background!

Full of Eurovision trivia, (if Kane Verrall didn’t know much about the song contest before playing this role, he will certainly be better informed now), innuendos, double entendres and lewd references abound!

Effective staging by David Shields, the action is in the living room of Josh’s flat centered around the TV. Reminiscent of The Royal Family, this works very well and we get to observe as relationships change and develop amongst these fragile friends.

This is billed as a comedy, and there were many funny lines peppered throughout the show, but a darker side tackling issues of purposelessness, loneliness and substance abuse were very much in evidence, and we see some of the outcomes of these as the drama unfolded.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Gina, Josh’s forthright and opiniated Mother, who descends and freely comments without necessarily stopping to think, which creates much of the humour, thanks to Blackburn’s writing and Anderson’s portrayal. Towards the end, she becomes far more tactful and reflective as did they all due to the circumstances they find themselves to be in and it was a far more sober 2nd half.

The cast played their roles well, and as the run continues I’m sure it will feel more grounded and settled. There was a slight feeling of uncertainty at times, but this didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the play.

The contrast of the pace and energy between the two Acts was sizeable, and I wonder if this was the reason we came away having enjoyed it, but with a feeling that there could have been more somehow to make us feel we had been taken on a better journey. Perhaps more humour was needed to counteract the darker themes and perhaps more Eurovision trivia and song moments wouldn’t have gone amiss, but that’s perhaps just me speaking as a Eurovision fan myself!

This show was reviewed on the 4th May.  Nul Points runs at The Union Theatre, London until the 20th May 2023.  Tickets available here: Nul Points ! | Union Theatre

*** 1/2 stars

Mandy Watsham-Dunstall

Catch Mandy every Sunday from 1pm for 'Ladies Who Lunch' here on Box Office Radio

Photo credit: Charlotte East