The Theory of Nat and Mike, Headgate Theatre, Colchester, tonight and tomorrow, March 4 and 5. For tickets call 01206 366000.

WELL if this is the swan song of young actor, director and writer Jazz Ely before she heads off to drama school, then it’s a pretty good one to go out on.

For someone just starting out on her theatrical career this is a mightily impressive debut complete with searing drama, fantastic believable characters and plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience on its seats throughout.

The Theory of Nat and Mike is a rather odd title for a play although perfectly understandable when you actually see it because that’s what Jazz has done.

She’s created a ‘theory’, in fact a number of theories really, why these two destructive human beings could be together and more importantly stay together.

It’s certainly fascinating to watch as Nat wrestles with her feelings, as well as the persuasive arguments of her friend Alex, to decide what she should do with her life.

Performance-wise Jazz has struck gold with Shane Whitworth who manages somehow to make the drunken, loutish Mike a little bit loveable, Claire Walkinshaw, who is completely mesmorising as the unhinged Nat, and Demi Teager, who perhaps has the hardest job of all playing the person looking in on all of this relationship mess.

Minor suggestions from my part would be to tighten up the dialogue, which at points could be confusing, and think about character motives, which very occasionally stretched the imagination.

That said, this was a cracking bit of theatre from a new voice, which will strike a chord with plenty of people whether they like it or not.