This Restless State
Reviewed – 16th March 2018
“the tameness of the script fails to relate the depth of distress”
Centred in the present, ‘This Restless State’ steps back to the past and forward to the future to explore the idea of our attachment to and recognition of home, in an intertwining of three singular predicaments. The writer, Danielle Pearson, motivated by the Brexit vote, which fuelled a debate in many minds, aims to question the spirit of national identity and the conflict between political beliefs and personal feelings and how this alters from one generation to another. She also discusses the tensions between freedom and responsibility as we shape the future we want or accept what is happening.
Jesse Fox gives a touchingly honest performance in this one-man feat as he endears the audience with ‘his’ story. Struggling to make sense of the path he is taking in life, he has also to confront his own reaction when he returns to the family home for the last time. He intersperses his account with the narratives of two others – Margot in Berlin, 1989, whose world stops as she learns of the fall of the wall, and Galina in Rome, 2052 – devastated by an Inter-Continental war – preparing to vote in a Europe-wide referendum. He sensitively moves from one character to the other, building a defined quality to each situation.
Director, Jemima James, subtly guides us round the piece as the threads of the stories interlace, while the sound design by Ella Wahlström is strikingly evocative, bathing the stage with language and music. Ben Pacey’s unpretentious set creates a simple, homely atmosphere and his lighting daubs the different eras in their distinctive tones and effectively punctuates the changes of scene. Any moments of drama are created artificially by the expertise of the technical effects.
In making ‘This Restless State’ theatrical conversation or storytelling, our engagement with Margot and Galina, whose lives are portrayed, is not as strong as with Jesse who is recounting his own; the performance, therefore, becomes dynamically unbalanced and, in addition, the thought-provoking topics the play purports to raise are only touched on. The concept of the work is original and the linking elements are apparent but, although each is a poignant comment on the contrariety of our emotions, the tameness of the script fails to relate the depth of distress and it comes across as three wistful, intimate sketches.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
This Restless State
Ovalhouse until 24th March
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