Michael Bullock directs and stars as the eponymous character of dubious intent.
Val is a dodgy gangster geezer, straight out of a Guy Ritchie film. However Northern lass Sasha takes him at face value in his Father Christmas outfit. Sasha befriends Val, a victim of a hit and run. Unbeknownst to her it was probably no accident but a rival criminal.
In a subtle but sinister possible grooming agenda, Val transforms shy Sasha into an employee. Rather than turning tricks, she accompanies Val to the opera. Her pay is considerable home product discounts from similarly obligated women all over London.
The leads share a slightly seedy, uncomfortable chemistry. In a strange way they share a quiet, polite default air. However both show a caustic side. Katie Watson’s Sasha starts off acting quite demure with half sister Chloe, Jo Hadjioannou. However when Chloe criticises the brothel like transformation of the flat, Sasha administers a severe reprimand and character assassination.
Former call girl Charmaine, played by newcomer June Storey, gets a more frightening admonishment from Val, suggesting a legendary nastiness within.
Simon Warner is Ashley, a former policeman who tries to warn her (Sasha) of the nefarious character of good old “Uncle Val”.
Alan Ayckbourn’s play is clever. Humorous as always but with a serious undertone, much of the power is in the audience’s imagination.
Interpretation and reading between the lines happens in every scene.
Bullock and Warner’s set design is a fine backdrop to the action.