Deny, Deny, Deny at Park Theatre

  • Theatre
Deny, Deny, Deny at Park Theatre


Thu, 17/11/2016 - 16:27


Juma Sharkah and Daniel Fraser in Deny, Deny, Deny. PHOTO: DARREN BELL.
Juma Sharkah and Daniel Fraser in Deny, Deny, Deny. PHOTO: DARREN BELL.
17 November, 2016

JOURNALIST turned playwright, Jonathan Maitland had me squirming in my seat with his engrossing play, An Audience with Jimmy Savile. But I’m afraid his latest work, Deny, Deny, Deny left me checking out the Southern Rail timetable.

Alistair McGowan was convincing as creepy DJ Savile, and in this sports doping tale, McGowan is the unseen broadcaster who touts Eve Haskell-Thomas as the new kid on the 100 metres starting block.

It’s 2026, and a far-fetched time when Britain has not one but two world-class women sprinters, and neither needs to cheat for both to be going for gold at the Boston Olympics.

Shvorne Marks plays Joyce, the veteran star, who’s suddenly second fiddle to starlet Eve (Juma Sharkah). Both girls are trained by crafty coach, Rona. Zoe Waites is excellent as posh, ice queen Rona, with her crude put-downs and crimson lippy.

Rona plays a Dionne Warwick song to help to quicken Eve’s running pace. She also humours Eve’s quaint “performance enhancing” ways: allowing her to eat blueberries from a plastic container and liquidised fenugreek muck made by her boyfriend, Tom (Daniel Fraser). 

Tom’s also an investigative hack, trying to write a sports scoop about drug cheats.

Rona sees the controlling Tom, as a threat to the sure-fire way Eve can win gold. Standing her ground with Tom, Rona also gets to work on scared Eve.

The play’s downside is some questionable performances. There’s also an ambling, lost half hour at the end, with a lame conclusion. 

It’s a shame. Until then, this is a solid, witty play, with an important message. 

Maitland rightly puts the boot into serial Russian cheating.

Maybe by 2026, hidden science will still defy anti-doping chiefs, and coaches and their athletes will just deny, deny, deny.

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