In this first play by James Corley, two single-parent families from very different backgrounds are brought together in the eponymous estate in Chelsea in 1998. Viv and her shy son, Ben move into rented accommodation next to Ylli and his more confident son, Besnik. Viv and Ben have escaped Norfolk. Ylli and Besnik have escaped Kosovo.
Both parents work night-shifts to make ends meet while their sons discover they have a shared passion for video games and maybe something more. They are all seeking to escape the lives they have found themselves leading.
Director Harry Mackrill creates a very believable environment for James Corley’s characters to inhabit and draws out some strong performances from his cast. Tom Milligan’s portrayal of a troubled, introverted Ben, about to leave his teenage years behind is particularly strong, delivering a performance of beautifully sustained energy. Patricia Potter as mum, Viv, clearly and cleverly portrays a woman upset with the world for the lot she has been handed while trying to retain an ever-thinning veneer of being able to cope. Nikolaos Brahimllari’s portrayal of Ylli contains both passion and despair but does suffer from issues with diction and, on occasion, volume. Newcomer Mirlind Bega provides an excellent foil in Besnik and delivers a gentle, if sometimes underplayed performance.
Ultimately, although World’s End is acted well enough and creates an environment that anyone of a certain age will recognise instantly, I’m not sure what questions it asks or what message it wants us to take away. As a slice of life play, though, it stands perfectly well on its own merits.