Back to Where
Jack Studio Theatre
Reviewed – 12th July 2018
“A crackling and plausible script, riddled with poignancy and depth“
‘Back to Where’ is a love story told in reverse. We join Will and Jane as they unpack outside a tent in remote North Wales where, almost immediately, the first in a series of arguments flares up over the absence of food and matches. Panic recedes when Will reveals his stash of alcopops and, as night falls, they sit, sip and unpack their relationship instead. The play ends with sunrise the next morning, followed by the last of many flashback scenes, in which they meet for the first time at the hipster coffee shop where Will works as a barista, awaiting his breakthrough as a film director.
This symmetry of Colin James’ script is matched by a symmetrical set; tent centre stage with Will’s coffee shop to one side and Jane’s career girl flat to the other. The action oscillates between the two sides as they peel back the layers; Will in Jane’s flat, guilt-tripping about relying on her lawyer’s income, Jane turning up drunk at his coffee shop accusing him of infidelity. In a key scene, early in their relationship, Jane nervously suggests a marriage of convenience to prevent Will having to return to his native Australia. It’s this contract that haunts the couple as its unwritten terms create cracks in their happy coexistence – possibly the significance of the jagged artwork on the floor of the set?
Lighting and Sound Design by Matt Part are instrumental in creating an unfussy, naturalistic drama that suits the Netflix generation. Indeed, with the play’s concentration on the fundamentals of character and structure the play could almost be a film drama if it weren’t for the slightness of their predicament. It’s hard to believe marriages with an element of convenience are doomed by the presence of genuine passion. However, the chemistry of the duo makes it work. As the more experienced actor, Vincent Andriano’s is a committed performance with great range. Hannah Hawkins is less defined, but she delivers some powerful moments, particularly towards the end of the first half, as she vents Jane’s terror at the strength of her own feelings.
The play has expanded from the version that debuted with the same cast at the Bread and Roses Theatre last year. The development of the story through a process of recorded improvisations implies an impressive degree of work on the couple’s contrasting personalities and backstories. It pays off in a crackling and plausible script, riddled with poignancy and depth, as the couple find that the power of their attraction to each other is a curse on their happiness within the constraints of ordinary life.
Reviewed by Dominic Gettins
Photography by Colin James
Back to Where
Jack Studio Theatre until 14th July