Sunday, December 3

Fred – The Kings Arms

Trish and Danny are getting divorced and are having couples counselling to finalise the finer details such as who gets custody of Fred and the couples’ assets, it’s never going to be plain sailing.

Their Counsellor Marc has disappeared out of the blue, so they get another counsellor Ellie at the last minute played by Louise Wilson. Louise has appeared in Coronation St as Nurse Lingard. She takes a brilliant part as the slightly unhinged replacement therapist who turns out to be Marc’s partner. Complicated? Yes. The dialogue is carefully concocted to reflect real life woes.

Themes of jealousy, infidelity and conflict in relationships are brought to life in a sparklingly realistic way. The gender divide is comically highlighted with seething dialogue as the couple lock horns and take sarcastic digs at one another. Acting was of a phenomenal standard with a wealth of experience between the company.

Fred is a unique comedy drama and script writer Helen Connolly has done a splendid job of creating a relevant clever and witty script. Ellie the replacement is rueing the day she ever agreed to cover for Marc as the couple enter into a verbal sparring match. The tension mounts as Danny played by Steve Connolly suspects Trish of having a soft spot for Marc. Has it been more than that? As the play unravels more doubts surface and honesty is the best policy, right? Trish played by Karen Allen is very convincing she is the woman on the edge of divorce who isn’t going down without a fight. Her expression is generally set to pissed off or even more pissed off.

The set is simple but effective in reflecting a typical therapy room with sofa and box of tissues. For anyone who has ever had cognitive therapy will be familiar with. What gives this play substance is the fresh approach to the usual couples falling out theme and it deftly makes you consider the ethical side of therapy and its complexities.

The fourth character is a hilarious stereotype of the middle-class narcissistic counsellor played by John Mackie. John has starred as Malachi Fyke in Outlander. Corduroy wearing muesli eating Scotch man who has potentially overstepped professional boundaries.

The pace is spot on with enough drama and twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a heady concoction of tragedy, treachery, jealousy and heartache packaged cleverly and with aplomb. Very watchable, seamlessly acted and side-splittingly funny.

So, who is Fred? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Fred continues at The King’s Arms until 28th October

Reviewer: Rachel Foster

Reviewed: 26th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★