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Review: Alligators at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

06 July, 2017 — By Sipora Levy

Lucia Paragine and Alec Newman in Alligators. Photo: Robert Day

Andrew Keatley’s powerful drama examines the fallout after a respectable teacher and family man is accused of sexual misconduct with a former pupil.

For the first half at least, Alligators works as both a gripping thriller and an exploration of how quickly a good reputation can be shattered and lives turned upside down.

Alec Newman and Susan Stanley are both excellent as Daniel and Sally Turner, a teacher and stay-at-home mother, who convey their increasing emotional turmoil with nuanced subtlety.

Leah Whitaker as Daniel’s lawyer Rachel is suitably restrained and professional, until the police investigation reveals further details about Daniel’s sexual history, involving schoolgirl porn and a wild threesome at university, challenge all our assumptions about his culpability.

The traverse space of Hampstead Theatre Downstairs is the perfect setting for what feels like a courtroom drama, with the audience sitting in judgment. To begin with, there is enough ambiguity and tension in the storyline to keep the audience on their toes, but the second half is less successful.

Keatley’s attempt to enter the world of the couple’s child Genevieve is awkward. The scene where social worker Cathy (Ony Uhiara) questions Genevieve (Lucia Peragine) is clumsy, and the introduction of fairy tales and a giant stick with which to challenge the “alligators” (allegations) feels contrived.

Until July 22
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