In the Shadow of the Mountain – 2 Stars

Shadow

In the Shadow of the Mountain

Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 17th May 2018

★★

“there is no connection or chemistry between the two actors, and if anything their moments of intimacy seem physically awkward”

 

Ellie and Rob meet unconventionally. That is to say she follows him and rugby tackles him to the ground when she senses that something is wrong. In no time at all they are dating, but Rob is still reeling from his past relationship, and Ellie’s mental health is growing increasingly unstable. ‘In the Shadow of the Mountain’ is supported by Mind, a leading mental health charity and it is a much-needed investigation into mental health issues, in this case Borderline Personality Disorder, and the effect they can have on a relationship.

Unfortunately the execution of the play is unsuccessful. Whilst David Shears settles into the role of Rob towards the second half of the production, he seems physically uncomfortable throughout, desperately searching for things to do with his hands, clumsy in the space. From the moment he enters he is “acting” (or over-acting), sighing and shaking his head. He is perpetually projecting the character of Rob rather than inhabiting him, making his characterisation a real struggle to believe. Felicity Huxley-Miners, on the other hand, is genuine and consistently strong as Ellie. Both actor in and writer of the piece, Huxley-Miners has certainly written herself a more nuanced and in depth role, and she fulfills it with commitment and a fantastic energy.

However there is no connection or chemistry between the two actors, and if anything their moments of intimacy seem physically awkward. At no point do we see the couple actually happy together, so Rob’s later descriptions of Ellie as “wonderful” seem empty and ingenuine, and his recurring decision to stay is unconvincing. The play requires some moments of calm to create balance, moments of warmth so that we understand why this relationship began. The combination of this lack of connection between the two and a lack of moments for this connection to be established, means that the relationship is wholly unconvincing and so its breakdown has limited impact. The piece exists predominantly at one level, meaning we become quickly desensitised. A more subtle escalation of the situation would really help this piece to create a sense of build.

This show starts a vital conversation, but is let down by a lack of balance and subtlety in the writing, and a lack of connection onstage.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography courtesy of show

 


In the Shadow of the Mountain

Old Red Lion Theatre until 2nd June

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
The Moor | ★★★★ | February 2018
Shanter | ★★★ | March 2018
Plastic | ★★★★★ | April 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

 

FacebooktwitterFacebooktwitter