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Neil LaBute’s newest play, In A Forest, Dark and Deep is a simmering pot of sibling rivalry. It’s set in an isolated log cabin on a thriller-typical dark and stormy night.
Betty, played by the gorgeous Olivia Williams, is a blue jean-clad bluestocking; dean at a nearby university, and completely at odds with her redneck carpenter brother (Matthew Fox). She’s hastily clearing out her student-tenant’s stuff, and calls on her brother to help. But as they bicker about the past while they’re tidying up, it starts to become clear that they’re revealing an even bigger mess with every book they pack.
Even if, like me, you guess the slightly clichéd twists early on, there’s still lots to enjoy about this slick, shouty show. Matthew Fox proves himself to be an excellent presence on stage; there’s violence in every movement he makes. As Betty, Olivia Williams manages to convey both haughty disrespect for her bitter, Puritanical brother and an honest vulnerability when she admits how much she’s upset by her ageing, fading attractiveness.
In A Forest, Dark and Deep might not have the most depth of all the scripts currently available in the West End, but it certainly does have two of the best star performances.