Reviewed – 26th September 2019
“As topical and in vogue the offbeat concept is, the final execution does not live up to what it promises”
Anyone for a game of golf? Well get your clubs out and tee up, as there’s a new course in town, and it’s unlike any other seen before. The Open explores the ramifications of our near-distant future in an absurd yet unnervingly plausible fashion, but lacks an inventive story to follow the strong concept.
The year is 2050. It’s post-Brexit and Great Britain looks a little different to how we know it. Now called the GBGC (Great British Golf Course), our beloved country has been bought and taken over by the one and only Donald Trump, and turned into a mass of putting holes. It’s a bleak landscape. Protagonists Arthur (Priyank Morjaria) and Patrick (Tom Blake) are stuck in this dystopian world, despondently going about their monotonous work on the course. Arthur more diligently does what he is told, whilst Patrick yearns for the past and to see his love Jana (Heidi Niemi) again. Her unexpected return causes havoc, and with not much time to spare, gives these two men an ultimatum that will change their lives.
As topical and in vogue the offbeat concept is, the final execution does not live up to what it promises. With so much exposition to have to get across, most scenes fall flat as they become discussion based with little action ever taking place. The second half does certainly pick up pace, but writer and director Florence Bell could have created more dynamic scenarios to portray instead. At times you’re left questioning small but niggling plot holes, such as, what’s happening to the UK residents who aren’t working for the golf course? There’s also the bizarre choice of never mentioning Donald Trump, even though he is the sole reason Britain has turned into a vast manicured turf for the rich. Possibly it’s a directorial choice to only elude to him, but it simply does not work.
There is however some undoubtedly worthy attempts from Bell at examining the disparity between the rich and poor, imagining a future where the gap has become even wider. Where the UK are still reliant on people from overseas to do our low-paid jobs, and the xenophobia from Trump and Brexit’s rhetoric has exploded into awful action.
The cast try their best with putting life into the lacklustre script. In particular, Morjaria as Arthur gives a standout performance that feels truthful, with clear character progression, where others can come across one-dimensional or without real motivations.
The set design by Tom Craig is a pleasing sight. The simple but ever so effective use of green Astro turf along the whole stage immediately transports you to the artificial, Disneyland-esque perfection that the GBGC is trying to sell. The stark contrast of the stage for the second half is a nice visual indication of the murkier business that goes on underneath the corporations facade.
All in all, the whole concept just feels too big to fit into its 105 minutes running time. What strives to be an inventive new take on the dystopian-thriller genre, made popular by the likes of Black Mirror, turns out to be mostly predictable and not enthralling enough. Just like golf really.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Kit Dambite
The Space until 12th October
Previously reviewed at this venue: