Venue: The Summerhall
Directed by Bertrand Lesca and produced by Jesse Meadows, The Fellswoop Theatre’s adaptaion of Toskiki Okada’s Current Location follows the members of a choir in a village struggling to cope with its collapse and to move on. While this adaptation loses some of the overt apocalyptic and science fiction elements of its Japanese counterpart, what does remain is a bleak atmosphere, where nothing seems certain and people seem disconnected.
The soundtrack which could be heard throughout the play, credit for which presumably goes to musical director Ben Osborn, was exceptional. A haunting collection of tense strings and eerie electronic sounds, it, perhaps beyond all other factors, contributed to the bleak aesthetic and apocalyptic feel of the production. It worked to facilitate the action of the play, while also working in conjunction with dialogue.
Both Caitlin Ince’s portrayal of Florence, the controlling choirmaster, and Charlotte Allan’s portrayal of Eva, and insecure choir member loyal to her, are extremely menacing and prevent the insular environment of the play from appearing safe or open. Roisin Kelly’s Elizabeth is used as an early vector to create anxiety, and helps establish the dynamics of control among the cast. The initial performance serves as an effective, if slightly overwrought precursor to the arrival of Pia Labore Noguez’s Hannah, who is used to channel feelings of uncertainty for the majority of the play.
The use of the space in ‘The Dissection Room’ of The Summerhall Theatre was clever. While the audience’s seating is pulled away and to the side of the stage, the venue itself was made to resemble the community hall space in which most of the play’s action occurs. This positioning also allows the actors to use the stage itself to perform to each other, they even eat tea and cake which had been left out for the audience before the performance.
The play is fundamentally concerned with an inability to communicate, most explicitly Elisabeth complains that they are making plays about issues instead of actually talking about them (making a not too subtle reference to the play itself). Throughout bizarre rumours of change are fed to the audience through the narration of Emma Keaveney Roys’ Jane, who acts as a kind of objective lens from which the audience can calibrate their perspective. The result of this is that the insistence of some of the choir members that everything is fine becomes an apparent denial, and then contributes to the atmosphere of silence and suppression.
Current Location builds up an air of tension and uncertainty, where muted opinions can only occasionally erupt through violent means. By refusing to properly have a discussion, or overtly comment on the themes of environmentalism or social change to which the play could be easily linked, it establishes a powerful meta-narrative about the discussions we don’t or can’t have, and our ability to allow problems to escalate before we confront them effectively.