The exams are imminent, but that’s no excuse not to pay a visit to the New Theatre. This week’s performance was interesting to say the least. The intensity of the play was rooted in the script, which focused on a couple reminiscing upon their childhood. But this was a childhood with a difference.
The beginning of the play was an unnerving one; the audience was immersed in complete darkness, with the sound of rain falling. The set incorporated a window, with an actual rainfall behind it. This was nothing short of impressive, adding an effect which was both visual and audible, increasing the intensity of the performance. Simple spotlights at the back and low lighting also added to this intensity.
Two separate montages of the two protagonists were brought together, almost as though they were in the the same room. The two sets of chairs and tables were similar enough to be mistaken as the same, which was aided by the fact that they were placed side by side rather than at opposite ends of the stage to indicate two locations. This uncertainty left one wondering whether the protagonists were talking to each other, or themselves.
The performances of Meg Salter and Will Vickers were outstanding. Nothing was overstated, instead this intimate script captured the precise detail of its characters’ personality, and the two actors effortlessly brought these characters to life.
As the play developed the back and forth dialogue between the two characters became unrelenting, addressing the audience more than eachother. The audience felt as much tension as the characters did in their separate, yet united, effort to overcome the past. The playing of a song momentarily relieved this tension; a tape recorder designed to trigger a memory and offer some comfort for the characters whilst also offering a moment’s pause for the audience.
This play was certainly finely tuned, with the ebbs and flows of the characters’ moods ensuring pace and audience attention. There were certain points when it did get just a bit too much, but I suspect this was simply due to the nature of the script, because the acting was superbly subtle; the two characters being of an age where they are unable to move.
This is an intriguing yet short play of just over an hour with no interval. There’s no denying it’s an intense performance, the message at the heart being the fragility of age. It won’t make you relax but it’ll leave you pondering.
By Amy Pearson