Arts > Flat broke

07 June 2017 | by Mark Lawson

Flat broke



Modern twist to a dramatic trope

Mark Lawson
Hampstead Theatre, London

From Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple in theatre to The Young Ones on TV, the flat share has long been one of the most reliable dramatic set-ups, with comedy and poignancy coming from people forced to live together from economic necessity rather than choice.

Matt Hartley’s Deposit, given a full production after a workshop run two years ago, features all the familiar tenancy tensions – rows over shower rosters, bin duties and fridge shelf-space – but with a very contemporary twist. The testy residents are two thirtysomething couples sharing a tiny studio flat for a year in order to save enough money to put down money on places of their own in London.

Hartley cleverly sets up fault lines between the forced foursome. Rachel, a primary teacher, and Ben, a local government press officer, earn around £30K a year each, while marketing officer Mel and Sam, a trainee surgeon, take home more than £10,000 more each. Sam is ambitious, but Ben a slacker, while Rachel and Mel are old university friends, who know each other’s pasts and weak points, which proves useful in the arguments that result from expecting two couples to live in a room divided, at night, by a screen. At least children are unlikely to be added to the throng, as proximity has the inevitable contraceptive effect.


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