Two cellmates on the edge of insanity fighting to remember their pasts. Have their memories been wiped or are their pasts just too terrible to be remembered? And why exactly are they being convicted?

As you walk into the slightly claustrophobic studio where “Conviction” is set, the first impression is chilling. The black-hooded figure by the entrance, the two figures in orange jump suits on threadbare mattresses and an ever-present rumbling are all deeply unsettling. Where are we? And what have these prisoners done? Even before a word of dialogue has been spoken, these questions immediately spring to mind, drawing the audience into the world of the play.

Charlotte’s conversations with her reflection in the toilet bowl were both hilarious and slightly unnerving.

The simplistic set consisting of two worn mattresses, a toilet bowl and basin makes the mind-numbing boredom of prison life no stretch of the imagination. The measly rations, delivered by the spooky hooded figure (Emma Collingwood), add to the torture for the two inmates but also help ramp up the comedy of the piece.

Two worn mattresses, a toilet bowl and basin makes the mind-numbing boredom of prison life no stretch of the imagination.

The initial dialogue was slightly sluggish, taking a while to truly get into its stride. However, when it did get going, it was brilliant. Charlotte Prosser was amazing as the unhinged Javan, her character’s insanity taking more than her fair share of the laughs throughout the show.

Her wandering gaze, which rarely seemed to register her fellow inmate furthered the depth of her madness.

Her conversations with her reflection in the toilet bowl in particular were both hilarious and slightly unnerving, whilst her wandering gaze, which rarely seemed to register her fellow inmate furthered the depth of her madness.

Opposite her, Zane (Harry Patte-Dobbs) seemed initially more grounded, but his sinister and violent undertones were slightly overpowering, meaning I didn’t completely empathise with the character. Whether I was meant to or not is another question.

The closing scene of his fall into insanity is pitiable – though you can’t help feel he deserves it.

My biggest issue with the play was the random use of coal. It supposedly comes flying through the window, but we see it enter from an internal source. Is it simply for the prisoners to write with? Or is there some higher significance? I’m sure I wasn’t alone in questioning this particular issue.

The introduction of coal from the outside world seems to have no meaning aside the blindingly obvious, something which, in this highly allegorical play, I felt was slightly confusing.

 [Coal] supposedly comes flying through the window.

Having said this, the climactic scenes were absolutely fantastic, with the writing and acting both flowing perfectly, as memories of the past finally stir and come to the fore.

Prosser steals the stage in these scenes, with her realisations shocking the audience into complete silence. Sadly, this means that Patte-Dobbs was left with the raw deal, though the closing scene of his fall into insanity is pitiable (though you can’t help feel he deserves it, especially more than poor Javan).

The climactic scenes were absolutely fantastic, with the writing and acting both flowing perfectly, as memories of the past finally stir and come to the fore.

Overall the play was very engaging and thought provoking. The play’s exploration of the importance of memory in defining a person was particularly interesting, with the flashbacks to their lives before imprisonment giving us peeks into the character’s back grounds, as well as offering tantalising hints of their crimes.

The cast were fantastic and the work of the directors, Emily Zinkin & James Gregory, really paid off. As my first Fringe show, the performance has definitely made me want to see more. A hearty congratulations to all involved, particularly Logan Wamsley for writing such a brilliant piece.


Star-Rating-41

 

 

Henry Stanley

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