Sweet Panic

Previewed 29 October 2003, Opened 12 November 2003, Closed 7 February 2004 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London

Stephen Poliakoff's play Sweet Panic in London starring Jane Horricks, Victoria Hamilton and John Gordon Sinclair and directed by the author.

A successful psychologist, Clare Attwood is a happy woman. Her work is satisfying, her partner attentive and supportive - she knows her mind and she knows how to live in a hectic urban environment. But, a series of ill-judged decisions incurs the wrath of Mrs Trevel, the mother of one of her young clients. As Mrs Trevel's behaviour becomes increasingly sinister and her obsession takes hold, this once confident psychologist is forced to re-appraise both her own life and that of the young people who are in her charge... Poliakoff is the consummate storyteller and in this fresh, gripping urban thriller, he has written an exceptionally exciting play that is in turns funny, moving and entertaining.

The cast for Sweet Panic in London stars Jane Horrocks as 'Mrs Trevel', Victoria Hamilton as 'Clare' and John Gordon Sinclair 'Martin' along with Daniela Denby-Ashe 'Gina', Rupert Evans 'Richard' and Philip Bird 'Mr Boulton'. Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff with design by Tom Piper. John Gordon Sinclair's West End credits include the musical She Loves Me (Savoy Theatre 1994).

"As eccentric office girl Bubble in Absolutely Fabulous, she's a little bit unconventional. But as a paranoid parent in Stephen Poliakoff's brilliant dissection of the therapy culture, Jane Horrocks is nothing short of frighteningly insane... Poliakoff's riveting stage drama focuses on the madness of over-protective mothers and fathers. As child therapist Clare, the excellent Victoria Hamilton exudes the self-satisfied arrogance of the legion of experts we have come to rely on in Britain. But her comfortable existence unravels when Mrs Trevel (Horrocks) - the disturbed mother of one of her infant patients, George, turns violently crazy. In the end, thanks to the intense questioning of Mrs Trevel, Clare realises that her molly-coddling profession may do more harm than it does good... Poliakoff's incisive piece asks whether it might not be better if parents sorted their own problems out when it comes to raising kids. The rush to therapy may already be resulting in a generation of unnecessarily troubled children." The Daily Mirror

"It's a thriller of sorts, though the biggest thrill is undoubtedly created by Victoria Hamilton's excellent performance as Clare Attwood, a child therapist. She's sensitive, intelligent, extremely sexy and obviously committed to the children she treats. Less so the parents, but for good reason: one of them bores for Britain on the subject of ready meals while another, Jane Horrocks's Mrs Trevel, an intense, spooky little frump, goes crazy after she can't get hold of Clare during a Bank Holiday weekend when her son runs away... The play is filled with fascinating riffs raising all sorts of issues: whether urban life is scarier now than when we were small, about the nature of panic, about our increasing dependence on specialists who sap us of our parental confidence. As a reflection of the way we live now, there's much to admire but, absorbing, amusing and scary as it is, it's oddly unfocused." The Mail on Sunday

John Gordon Sinclair: "When I read the play I liked the message. It is about how people no longer take responsibility for their actions. At one point in the play, the neurotic mother played by Jane Horrocks, Mrs Trevel, can't get hold of the child psychologist on the bank holiday weekend and decides this is the reason why her child ran away... The piece has a heightened sense of reality about it - there is a lot of action and jumping around. It is quite abstract. Poliakoff keeps telling us that we need to tame all the ideas in the play before we can really start working on it. It is only after rehearsing it for a while that I started making connections that I hadn't before realised. It's all beginning to make more sense."

Sweet Panic in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 29 October 2003, opened on 12 November 2003, and closed on 7 February 2004