Confidence Southwark Playhouse Review

The Plot

The scheming young inhabitants of a rundown British seaside resort in the 1990s plot increasingly ill-advised pathways to quick cash and eventual escape. A heady mix of boredom, betrayal and bad behaviour combining to create frequently hilarious consequences.

The Good

Confidence perfectly captures the spirit of a young generation trapped between delusional self-confidence and more depressing realities. As illustrated by iconic audience favourites like Only Fools and Horses, clueless optimism and hapless aspiration are a particularly potent source of endearing comedy.

The production’s compact neon drenched set provides an imaginatively versatile and effective backdrop for the story. Combined with the quirky costumes it efficiently illustrates the amusing contradictions between the youthful hyper optimism of the 1990s and the languid depression of once popular seaside towns stuck in a pattern of terminable decline.

At the centre of this world Tanya Burr gives a truly great performance as Ella, the brazenly ambitious and ruthless teenage temptress determined to improve her own good fortunes at any cost. Burr’s performance has a convincingly sneering swagger far removed from her own familiar sweet nature. Ella is consistently crude and selfishly cynical with occasional flashes of desperate vulnerability. It’s an impressively foul mouthed and fragile transformation from the popular YouTube beauty blogging superstar. This bravely uninhibited performance alone should be more than enough to silence any detractors that question the commitment or talent of Tanya Burr based solely on her distracting social media success.

Around Burr’s provocative character the rest of a fantastic cast populate the seaside wasteland Ella struts around with people who are equally clueless and complicit in her dubious entrepreneurial schemes. The ensemble do a fine job of maintaining a consistent darkly comedic tone throughout.  A dead hamster and a most unlikely use for a Cadbury’s Flake are just a few examples of the play’s deliciously silly and sharp edged running punchlines.

The Bad

Overly unsympathetic audiences may find the predictably disastrous consequences of the character’s deluded antics a little less endearing. While many people gleefully enjoy watching the inevitable failings of the self-deluded, for some it’s can be more of an ordeal than amusing. For those people it’s only fair to warn that Confidence offers up cringe inducing comedic moments with shameless frequency.

The Ugly Truth

Confidence delivers plenty of laughs and scheming plot twists, propelled by a brilliant cast and Tanya Burr’s ferociously charismatic performance. The play is arguably more fun than an actual trip to the seaside.

Review by Russell Nelson

Leave A Comment