The darker side of organised torture and forced containment is a huge topic to tackle in such a short piece. Framed by a series of duologues and alcoholism (seriously, he drinks effectively an entire bottle of whiskey by himself – I was impressed that he was still standing) the audience is slowly alerted to the sinister nature of events that have evidently been taking place in the recent past. Three different family members are interrogated in an unnervingly civilised manner – each taking a very different approach to the situation. From silence to anger, the well-acted characters meant that anybody could relate to at least one of the reactions.
However, the play could perhaps be best summed up by the word: ‘vague’. This was the beauty of the performance however as every actor did an excellent job in conveying great depth to their characters – even if they could occasionally be a tad cliché and it meant that Sebastian Allum found great difficulty in occasionally closing his mouth – letting the audience’s imagination run wild, jumping to conclusions which if anything only made the message of the piece more prominent. A prime example would be the intonation of the themes to strongly suggest the setting of America contrasting with the very British accent of Allum – intentional or not, the subtle associations made here were much appreciated.
It appeared that the entire story-line revolved around the daughter of the family in question; and thus it is a shame that Emma Browne was afforded so little stage time as one cannot help but feel that the performance would have generated a stronger impact had her character development been slightly greater. Nevertheless, this did not detract from the performance in any meaningful way, as excellent performances from the cast all-round are testament to.
It was well-produced and one must appreciate the simplicity of the set and sterile technical design which created a spot-on atmosphere, then enhanced via a preamble and ‘post-amble’. The decision to opt for this instead of a curtain call was a brave one, but undeniably an excellent decision that must be praised as it let the imagination continue to run wild and re-assess beliefs as the audience were left in the dystopian naturalistic world even after the performance ended.
Overall, an excellent performance in an interesting interpretation that holds great promise for the future of St Andrean dramatic arts.