Venue: Friargate Theatre
Run: 1st-3rd December
Directed by: Katie Lambert
The play is constructed around the concept of storytelling and adorned with elements of comedy, manipulation and meta-drama. The characters Red, Yellow and Blue are played respectively by Sam Briggs, Helena Clarke and James Soldan, they embark in the childlike game, creating a story between them. However, sinister elements of their game emerge as they create the characters of John (Michael Wilkins) and Julia (Claire Curtis –Ward), who they treat like puppets physically and mentally manipulating them.
The set was extremely significant to the play, the stage and walls were completely covered in newspaper and there were rubbish bags strewn around the floor; It was honestly like being inside a rubbish bin. It is important to note how well Red, Yellow and Blue merged into their background , their faces were grayish and bits of newspaper were stuck all over their body. This was extremely effective as, right from the start of the play the audience could see these characters symbolized the very words and paper making up the newspaper stories.
The story which was created divulged into exploring the secrets of an eccentric upper-class family, the Dewinters. Red Yellow and Blue wrestled with the various paths the story should take, introducing and dissolving ideas of murder, incest and love affairs. A scene which was particularly resonant was when Red and Blue were trying to force Yellow play along with the idea of incest, the atmosphere became rather chilling as Blue violently threw her around the stage and tried to kiss her. Yellow (Helena Clarke) convincingly showed the terror of being controlled by a story she herself had created, she cowered at the edge of the stage, isolated and looked on aghast. The contrast between this and the energy of her previous behaviour alerted the audience that things were getting out of hand and it was not longer a children’s game.
Focusing on the sub story of the mysterious Dewinter family, James Soldan must be commended on his part as George, an eccentric uncle, the way he contorted his body and adopted a rasping voice to emulate a wizened old man was enjoyably comic. However, it also meant that the audience could clearly distinguish when he was playing the part of George and when he was playing Blue. Though this clear separation of between characters was not achieved by all, it was very difficult to distinguish between the two parts of Elspeth Dewinter and the rather tenuous character of Marina. Helena Clark did not distinguish her voice or mannerisms enough between these characters and it was often confusing as to which character she was playing.
A small gripe was that the stage was rather small and at times the characters blocked each other and important props from the audience. But at the same time I appreciate the importance of an intimate atmosphere as it contained addictively intense nature of the play. The performance ended with a touching scene between John and Julia, well acted and with convincing chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed this play and it absolutely exceeded my expectations, the comedy was well timed and never over-done, as Sam Brigg’s conveyed in his performance as of the tortured artistic soul of Tobias Dewinter. What came across most prominently however was how well written the play was; it was dynamic, intelligent and original, and frankly, if you didn’t see it, you’d be sorely missing out.