The Meeting

Reuben Johnson's The Meeting commands a strong central performance by Reuben Johnson, speaking the lines of Reuben Johnson under the keen directorial eye of Reuben Johnson. This is quite impressive in itself – how can he be in so many places at once? – but although the Citizen Kane trick is a neat one I felt his writing lagged slightly behind his other two, more developed talents.Jumping back and forth in time, The Meeting shows the consequences of a single rash act, under provocation, on the life of a talented young footballer who finds himself imprisoned, expected to conform to the stereotype of a violent thug. It's a sensitive examination of promise wasted, and Jake (guess who) is a highly sympathetic, relatively nuanced character. Unfortunately, if the play intends to suggest there are no easy solutions and that we're far too quick to judge and take sides, then it's a little too emotionally manipulative for that.The eponymous meeting is a confrontation between Jake and a grieving widow, and by this point Johnson has already stacked the deck so much in Jake's favour that every time she spoke I wanted to slap her in the face and shout 'It was an accident! Weren't you listening? He could have played for Man United!'. The ending is an interesting shock, though as with much of the set-up it's quite predictable.Simon Stephens' Country Music has been here before, and better; but then Reuben Johnson is only about twelve, and The Meeting has a lot of youthful energy and promise, as well as creating genuine tension in its pivotal, physical moments. A sparser script would have helped this production to avoid cliché and mawkishness. As it stands, it raises a number of interesting questions, but would be braver if it left them a bit more open.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

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The Blurb

2009 NSDF winners return with Reuben Johnson's, 'The Meeting'. Before Jake can be released from prison he has one meeting left... Tense and touching this is a story about how one incident can change so many lives forever.

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