[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/35573?ns=guardian&pageName=Jump+%7C+Theatre+review%3AArticle%3A1310234&ch=Stage&c3=Guardian&c4=Theatre%2CStage%2CCulture+section&c6=Alfred+Hickling&c7=09-Nov-25&c8=1310234&c9=Article&c10=Review&c11=Stage&c13=&c25=&c30=content&h2=GU%2FStage%2FTheatre[/img]Live theatre, Newcastle
It is New Year's Eve in Newcastle and depressed twentysomething Greta has climbed to the top of the Tyne bridge to end it all, only to find there is a queue. Meanwhile, two first-time hit men are worrying about their commission. They also discover that someone else has got there before them.
Lisa McGee's comedy-thriller relies heavily on coincidence, but it's the way these coincidences are engineered that becomes enthralling. In fact, it's all about the timing, as McGee's new-year scenario enables her to spin the clock backwards and forwards freely: it's only when the multiple strands fuse together that it all ends with fireworks.
The difficulty with such plot-driven drama is that it can require a lot of exposition to set the gears in motion, and the early scenes of Max Roberts's production run the risk of seeming slightly inconsequential. Yet once it picks up momentum, it becomes unstoppable, and the performances are uniformly impressive. Frances McNamee and Neil Grainger form a compelling suicidal double act, while the precipitous rise of Isla Shaw's set gives their teetering negotiations a real "will-they-won't-they?" quality.
McGee's writing has a staccato feel more suggestive of a screenplay than stage drama, but it is enlivened by numerous neat and comic observations. Harry Hepple is great value as an anxious contract killer who kits himself out in a suit for his first day on the job, only to realise he's left the security tag attached. It's hard to imagine any real threat posed by this hapless hit man.
Until 5 December. Box office: 0191-232 1232.
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Guardian: Jump | Theatre review
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