Bread & Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 2nd July 2019
“there is a lot of room for rethinking and adjustments to bring more coherence”
A double-bill presented by student-based Sisu Theatre, ‘The Incursion’ looks inwards at our individual coping mechanism which switches on to protect us when we feel most vulnerable. The first piece brings to light the repercussions of avoiding the painful truth and the second turns a blind, delusional eye to our surrounding reality.
‘Gnawings’, written and directed by Olivia Catchpole, depicts the peculiar behaviour within families. It relates to the singularity of its members who are inextricably tied and the lengths to which they are prepared to go to manage this bond. To start with, the narrative and scenario are obvious and familiar – a typical family get together, everyday small talk. Tensions rise, steam is let off and finally they all settle down again. Through this storyline, there is a fight, the mother disappears (literally eaten away by leaving things unsaid) and the father briefly turns into a rodent, though whether he is victim or culprit or both is inconclusive. Leon Bach as the son, Oliver, begins to draw us in with his opening lines but, as the conversation develops between them, a lack of fusion in the delivery makes the dialogue judder and, with the awkwardness of the cast’s under-defined characters, even its chances for absurd comedy are weakened.
A sunny beach strewn with plastic bags and bottles of alcohol, the set depicts a scene of neglect and bleakness. Madeleine Carter, writer and director, uses ‘Bottleneck’ to illustrate this disturbing situation and how the feeling of impotence can trigger diverse reactions as a survival technique. Sarah Eakin and Leon Bach as Celia and Raymond form an interesting and convincing couple who, blistering in the heat of their sterile existence, look away from the world and find solace in each other. There is fluidity and shape to both their interpretation of the script and use of the small stage area. When Beatrice and Amy (Gemma Ortega and Olivia Catchpole) enter, the play changes gear. Neither gets under the skin of their character, so the meaning of the narrative becomes ambiguous, the energy peters out and we are left puzzled.
The lighting and sound (Sam Lorimer) certainly help the performances – the gnawing background noise creates an irritating unease and the beach is enhanced by atmospheric lighting. Although there is a lot of room for rethinking and adjustments to bring more coherence, especially to the endings, ‘The Incursion’ has a thoughtful basis to build on. Less of a profound comment on the consequences of human action, the ideas behind this new writing are an expression of maturing discovery and making sense of issues which imply a disturbing future for the younger generation.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Bread & Roses Theatre until 6th July
Previously reviewed at this venue: