Tag Archives: Ewa Ferdynus

The Net

★★½

Tristan Bates Theatre

The Net

The Net

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 16th August 2019

★★½

 

No doubt, this is still a very relevant and prevalent story. But the manner in which it has been tackled seems a bit reductive …

 

This is the age-old story of ‘us versus them’. Directed by Samara Gannon, The Net is set on an unnamed contested piece of land divided by a wall, a pair of women on each side laying their claim. The land is barren, but still the fight goes on. One side says they “feel” that this is their land, that it’s time they took what was rightfully theirs; the other argues that their villages were razed to the ground, that this was, until recently, their home.

No doubt, this is still a very relevant and prevalent story. But the manner in which it has been tackled seems a bit reductive, having two sides of the argument come so plainly to the table, and ending up almost exactly where you would expect, with everyone having some kind of revelation about their enemies, notwithstanding a little bloodshed along the way. Granted, The Net takes a slight curve in the normal plot trajectory, but it’s not shocking enough that we don’t see what’s round the bend.

The staging (Sally Sommerville-Woodiwis) is quite beautiful: a patchwork of mismatching fishing nets, intertwined with trinkets and what look like either crystal balls or Christmas baubles, make up the dividing wall. This serves both to explain how one might conceivably break through, and to allow the audience to see both sides. The fact of it being made by something so easily broken isn’t really addressed, but it’s much of a muchness – the wall is there, people are afraid to break through, other people are afraid that they might.

There are abundant sound effects (Ruth Sullivan), denoting the closing in of the unseen army, or splices between the present moment and individual monologues, but very often it’s unclear what these sounds are supposed to be. Coursing electricity is used, for example, to bring us back to the conflict at hand, with no correlation to the plot. The sound of body-slaps (I think?) and whispers is used as an undercurrent for a couple of monologues, but again, I don’t understand their relevance.

The production extols its inclusion of all ages in the telling of this story, “from 16 to 70”. Sue Moore, playing da Silva’s grandmother, is a wonderful addition in theory. Unfortunately, her range is limited from mild annoyance all the way to mild frustration. She does push herself in one emotionally vexing monologue recounting her daughter’s death, but the moment is short-lived.

Sarah Agha, at the other end of the age range (I’m presuming she’s sixteen), expresses her character’s ongoing trauma and naivety faithfully. Yvonne Wan and Marta de Silva are similarly engaging. Though all three performances are a little overwrought at times, I can’t see how it could be avoided in this narrative. Whilst this experience would no doubt be extremely stressful, keeping the emotional anxiety at eleven all the way through the play is quite exhausting.

This is certainly a story that needs telling, but it feels a little like something that should tour disputed borders, or secondary schools, rather than performing to an already (mostly) left-leaning London crowd. This kind of story should provoke a response, but instead the audience leaves feeling much the same about such conflicts as they did when they entered.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ewa Ferdynus

 

Camden Fringe

The Net

Tristan Bates Theatre until 17th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019
The Luncheon | ★★★ | June 2019
To Drone In The Rain | ★★ | June 2019
Class | ★★★★ | July 2019
Sorry Did I Wake You | ★★★★ | July 2019
The Incident Pit | ★½ | July 2019
When It Happens | ★★★★★ | July 2019
Boris Rex | ★★ | August 2019
All The Little Lights | ★★★★★ | August 2019
The Geminus | ★★ | August 2019

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

 

Drowned or Saved? – 4 Stars

Drowned or Saved

Drowned or Saved?

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 8th November 2018

★★★★

“a moving and powerful theatrical experience”

 

Primo Levi, who died in 1987, was an Italian-Jewish Holocaust survivor and the author of a number of respected works including an account of the year he spent as a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp. Drowned or Saved? is a new play written and directed by Geoffrey Williams that not only pays homage to Levi’s message of humanity, compassion and perseverance but also forces the audience to never forget the systematic murder of six million Jews. Whilst it is difficult to conceptualise that number of people, it is easier to understand one person’s story and in essence, this is what the play focuses on.

The audience is greeted by Levi in his sparsely furnished study. There are some books and a Menorah, a symbol of Judaism since ancient times. He is restless and unable to sleep. He struggles to get closer to a character in a story he cannot complete, so he delves into his haunting memories of Auschwitz and recalls characters he met.

Marco Gambino is perfectly cast as Primo Levi. He commands the stage and wonderfully conveys the tormented soul Primo has become. Equally talented, Paula Cassina plays his loving wife Lucia and also their housekeeper Mrs Giordanino as well as Vanda, a close friend of Primo’s who died alongside him on the train to Auschwitz. Alex Marchi takes on six very different character roles and is able to successfully switch between them, often in the same scene. The final cast member is Eve Niker who has the difficult task of conveying, with no words, the disintegration of an inmate in those terrible conditions. Primo knows her only as Null Achtzehn (translated to 018) due to him recognising part of her camp serial number.

Designer Baśka Wesołowska has created a simple but effective set with wooden slatted walls which adapt with the play’s timeline, from a study to a train wagon and finally to the camp. Rachael Murray’s sound design flows well and the lighting (Matt Leventhall) helps create a smooth transition backwards and forwards in time.

Amongst the outstanding storytelling, there are some moments that don’t quite work. Those not able to understand German and Italian, as well as Jewish tradition, may at times feel slightly isolated from the content. Equally the ending, whilst incredibly emotional, left the story slightly unfinished and I felt more could have been told about Levi. However, the writing and direction from Geoffrey Williams is commendable. Whilst the piece will appeal to a wider audience, it is certainly unmissable for those with an interest in the Holocaust, history or indeed with a Jewish background.

Drowned or Saved? clearly it isn’t a light hearted piece. It is however a moving and powerful theatrical experience covering a horrific, yet important, part of modern history that should never be forgotten.

 

Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by Ewa Ferdynus

 


Drowned or Saved?

Tristan Bates Theatre until 24th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Love Me Now | ★★★★ | March 2018
An Abundance of Tims | ★★★½ | April 2018
Lucid | ★★★★ | April 2018
Meiwes / Brandes | ★★★ | April 2018
The Gulf | ★★★ | April 2018
San Domino | ★★ | June 2018
The Cloakroom Attendant | ★★★ | July 2018
Echoes | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Love Lab | ★★★★ | August 2018
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018

 

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