Tag Archives: Marta da Silva

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

 

I Will Miss You When You’re Gone – 2.5 Stars

Gone

I Will Miss You When You’re Gone

Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 18th August 2018

★★½

“there’s no reason why this play couldn’t evolve into a very valuable voice in the conversation surrounding grief”

 

Perhaps the main issue with I Will Miss You When You’re Gone is that, despite promising to discuss the effects and experience of living with grief, it gets so caught up in the throes of ghost politics that it all but forgets to do what it set out to. To explain what I mean by this, this play comes in at just over an hour in length. One would think that in this time there could be plenty of discussion of what it means to grieve and eventually move on, but this just doesn’t happen. Instead, much of the time seems to be taken up with the minutiae of who can or can’t see who and why. Certainly, this could be of interest, but it felt to me that it seriously overshadowed what the play allegedly set out to do. There were many points at which it became evident that, for all the talking, the plot was not really growing or progressing. Instead, it felt like it was managing to go in circles without breaking any new ground.

Additionally, while not all of the acting was wonderful, there was also a strong sense that this would be a challenging piece to perform extremely well. Far too many of the lines jarred uncomfortably, and some moments just felt so unnatural that it was virtually impossible to take them seriously. Most of the time, it would be hard to really blame the actors for this. The issue clearly lies far more with Jessica Moss’ original material. However, I didn’t get the impression that the direction (Vuqun Fan) pulled much out of the text. It was frequently hard to discern just why the characters were doing what they were doing as their motivations were never really made clear. Because of this, many of the momentary snapshot scenes (all too frequently sandwiched between painfully extended blackouts) just didn’t quite make sense. Given the simplicity of the set (Aiden Connor) and the small size of the cast, it would be hard to justify any blackouts between scenes at all, and yet these were often long to the point of distraction. If these quick successions of small scenes are to work, there must be a better way to do that than cutting the play off for twenty seconds every time.

Despite these issues, I can’t write this play off. Perhaps if the director and cast manage to hone their focus in on the elements of the text that explore real issues, these can be more visibly drawn out. If that is possible, then there’s no reason why this play couldn’t evolve into a very valuable voice in the conversation surrounding grief, and on how we as a society deal with it. There is some important material in there – there’s discussion of how isolation plays into mental health issues, how humans respond to grief and what it means to succeed. If these issues can be brought to the forefront, that would be a good place to start.

 

Reviewed by Grace Patrick

 


I Will Miss You When You’re Gone

Hen & Chickens Theatre until 29th September

 

 

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