Tag Archives: Irene Delfanti

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

 

The Knot
★★★★

Old Red Lion Theatre

The Knot

The Knot

Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 20th June 2019

★★★★

 

“an intimate insight into the institution and ideals of marriage”

 

Based on the actors’ real-life experiences, The Knot, directed and produced by Dan Daniel, tells the story of two men from vastly different worlds who face parallel struggles in their romantic lives. Aidan Hayes (Caolán Dundon) is an Irish actor who is trying to bring his Argentinian fiancé to the UK, but the lengthy visa application and a lack of physical intimacy soon exposes the cracks in their relationship. Imran Basra (Aiyaz Ahmed) is a Muslim Pakistani who has recently discovered his Sikh Indian wife of twenty years has been unfaithful despite the familial sacrifices both had made for their marriage. Through a series of monologues, Aiden and Imran explore the meaning of love, forgiveness and commitment and whether ‘tying the knot’ is ever really worth it.

The dialogue is highly conversational which suits the performance well and helps to form a greater connection between the characters and the audience. At times, Ahmed and Dundon ask the audience questions about marriage and divorce directly, and the request for the audience to turn off their phones at the beginning of the show is cleverly woven into the show’s opening scene. There are also self-referential moments such as Dundon joking about the woes of acting in a fringe production above a pub which provide welcome humour to the tense and uncomfortable unravelling of the two characters’ love lives. Some of the script is a little uncomfortable, for example, Imran claiming sex to be a means of payment in a marriage, and it is not always clear if these statements are a joke.

Ahmed and Dundon are both very strong in their roles and the transitions between the two men’s stories are seamless. Imran’s arch is particularly moving and his religious and career struggles make him multi-dimensional and compelling. Aiden is however a less sympathetic character and at times borders on being a caricature of an angry Irish man. Aiden’s story revolves almost entirely around his Argentinian fiancé and the play would perhaps benefit from her inclusion.

The stage and lighting (Irene Delfanti) are well-thought-out. The set is very simple, but this assures that focus is kept on the characters and their stories. The audience sit on two sides of the small square stage which is empty apart from three seats-cum-containers. A small black circle is in the corner of the stage facing the audience. This acts as a platform for which Imran and Aiden answer and make phone calls, and the stage is concurrently plunged into darkness and the converser illuminated when a phone call is answered.

The Knot offers an intimate insight into the institution and ideals of marriage and is a poignant reminder of the hard work, compromise and commitment required to maintain a healthy relationship.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Dan Daniel

 


The Knot

Old Red Lion Theatre until 6th July

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Agency | ★★ | October 2018
Indebted to Chance | ★★★★ | November 2018
Voices From Home | ★★★½ | November 2018
Anomaly | ★★★★ | January 2019
In Search Of Applause | ★★ | February 2019
Circa | ★★★★ | March 2019
Goodnight Mr Spindrift | ★★ | April 2019
Little Potatoes | ★★★ | April 2019
The Noises | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flinch | ★★★ | May 2019

 

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