Tag Archives: Sally Somerville-Woodiwis

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

 

Hear me Howl

Hear me Howl
★★★

VAULT Festival

Hear me Howl

Hear me Howl

The Vaults

Reviewed – 31st January 2019

★★★

 

“Lydia Rynne’s script is witty and well-paced, and it’s worth a watch”

 

Regardless of what you’ve come to see, The Vaults, with its old brick tunnel walls and stark furnishings, is always an exciting venue. Upon entering, we’re given a pair of earplugs, the reason for which becomes apparent when we see the stage covered with various drum kits. And, right on time, we are alerted to the play’s beginning with a chaotic drum crash.

Jess is nearly thirty, living in a basement flat; she has a boyfriend with whom she has sex once a month and a job that at best she finds boring, and at worst deeply despises. On discovering she is pregnant she embarks on an early life-crisis, or as the theatre’s synopsis calls it, a late coming-of-age journey, as she tries to decide if she actually wants this baby or if she is simply giving in to society’s futurist regenerative pressures.

The play consists of an hour-long monologue, and Alice Pitt-Carter does well to keep the audience engaged, making good use of the space, and allowing for peaks and troughs of energy in her delivery. The Vault Theatre’s Cavern sits directly under a train line and throughout the play the trains beat overhead to great effect, a sporadic but weighty heart-beat rhythm lending a seemingly purposeful baseline to the soundtrack. Owing to the venue’s unusual combination of echoing acoustics and an intimate space, Kay Michael might have directed Pitt-Carter to create a more confessional performance. But she acts in much the same way you might in a larger, more conventional auditorium. She is not over-dramatic, but when the audience is so close to the performer it seems unnecessary to enunciate and facially contort with such clarity.

Caley Powell’s production is simple but effective: Sally Somerville-Woodiwis’ stripped-back set design consists of a drum kit, more scattered drums, and walls covered with teenage bedroom-style poster collages. The sound design is equally bare-bones – Pitt-Carter uses the drums and a solitary microphone to punctuate certain lines, lend an element of tension or, as you would imagine with a self-professed amateur on a drum-kit, to create a feeling of stress and havoc. Martha Godfrey’s lighting generally either floods the stage and part of the audience, or spotlights in moments of high tension. All this is to great effect – it’s a small venue and the audience is on level with the staging so an overly sophisticated production would be too distracting.

A one-woman play about the pressures of society in which the protagonist decides, with zero musical experience, to be a drummer in a punk band, is a perfect recipe for disaster, and to its credit, it is not disastrous. It is, however, by no means ground-breaking either. The current conversation regarding abortion isn’t quite so fraught and the story somehow doesn’t seem realistic in the way it might have ten years ago. Nonetheless, Lydia Rynne’s script is witty and well-paced, and it’s worth a watch.

 

Reviewed by  Miriam Sallon

Photography by Will Lepper

 

Vault Festival 2019

Hear me Howl

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

Previous review of this show:
Hear me Howl | ★★★★ | Old Red Lion Theatre | September 2018

 

 

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