Review: Pomona

is wowed by TFTV’s mysterious and gritty production

Image: Marcus Crabb

Image: Marcus Crabb

Venue: Black Box Studio, Department of Theatre, Film and Television

★★★★☆

TFTV’s ‘Pomona’ isn’t so much a play as it is an experience. Described by the directors as ‘…a detective story, in which the audience take the role of detective’, I didn’t feel like a detective but I certainly felt part of a game. With recurring themes of games and puzzles, and a poster sporting a Dungeons and Dragons dice, there is a real lightness given to some of the difficult subject matter, which makes the production very engaging.

Although the play could have flopped without its great casting, there are some really masterful moments of directing from Sam Finlay and David Bolwell. Without spoiling it (because you should absolutely consider seeing this play) there is a scene lit entirely by torches, creating different corridors and lighting up the actors faces at crucial moments. It’s different to anything I’ve seen before and pulled the audience into the situation – again, a part of the ‘game’.

There are a few pieces of casting that really deserve a mention. Chris Casbon as Zeppo shone. His opening monologue was a highlight for me; a natural storyteller, he used the space masterfully and made me sit right up in my seat. Never have I seen someone demolish chicken nuggets so comically.

Joseph Hayes as the bumbling Charlie is the glue to this otherwise fragmented plot. His lyrical voice soars, his comic timing excellent, and he is both light relief and the audience proxy. He has a very easy way on stage.

Em Barrett as the ice-cold character of Gale required quite the poker face; a fragile mask which she played well. Her delicate performance allowed the essential weakness of her character to shine through at key points. Barrett’s voice in particular resonated in my head; with chilling diction she commanded the stage – or rather, the ‘hole’ in the middle of the Black Box Theatre.

Image: Marcus Crabb

Image: Marcus Crabb

The Black Box was transformed. To give credit where credit is due, the quality of the set was essential to this production. Grey and urban, as well as amazingly constructed, set designers Megan Bailey and Natasha Dawson made the space feel like a cavernous, concrete hole. I was transported!

The technicians certainly deserve a mention. There were many, often very subtle sound effects, but some beautifully recorded heavy breathing huffing through the speakers stood out for me. The lighting was slick and very fitting too, to such a grimy production.

In all, this production demands to remembered. Much of the strong imagery and acting has glued itself to the front of my mind and, as I write this, I’m sincerely glad I got to see it.

See Pomona for yourself this Thursday 24th November or Saturday 26th November 2016 at 7:30pm! 

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