Tag Archives: Trevor White

Building the Wall – 4 Stars


Building the Wall

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 4th May 2018


“fearlessly addresses the concerns of the Trump-era presidency with chilling historical references”


In a prison interrogation room in 2019, Rick has one chance to tell reporter Gloria his side of the story. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Time Square, the American president orders a “round up”: the mass deportation of immigrants. When other countries refuse to engage in this scheme of ‘repatriation’, the number of detainees sky rockets and America is running out of places to put them. In the middle of all this is Rick. Rick runs a detainee prison. He is dealing with overcrowding, cholera, a heat wave and now governmental pressure. Months later, he is in prison himself, the President has been impeached and we are about to find out why. Bravely set only a stone’s throw into the future (although written in 2016), Robert Schenkkan’s dystopian narrative is a sinister vision of the possible consequences of a violent anti-immigration governmental stance, and begs the question: is it a crime to follow orders?

Jez Bond directs the UK premiere of ‘Building the Wall’ flawlessly. We watch the interview through the glass of an interrogation room (designed by Sarah Beaton). The room itself is bright white, bare apart from the obvious table and chairs, a water dispenser and a black mirror/window set into the wall. The sound (Theo Holloway) and lighting (Sally Ferguson) design are detailed and intelligent. We can only hear the characters speak when Gloria’s sound recorder is on, and the interview is underscored by sounds of violence from the prison, reminding the audience of what Rick’s everyday has become. As the play begins, long white ceiling lights flicker off, section by section.

Angela Griffin plays the African American academic, the only person Rick has granted access to. Trevor White plays Rick. Both are infinitely believable and I cannot fault their performances, but the characters themselves lack a certain level of depth and complexity. There is very little tension between them, meaning the ‘thriller’ element that the play defines itself with is missing, and the characters often serve as vehicles for the narrative. We do get a small amount of insight into Gloria’s life, her experiences of racism at an early age for example. Schenkkan also positions Rick as a cog within the system despite his differentiation between “the illegals” and “real Americans”, which adds some nuance to his character. However, given the structure of the play, their predominant function is to push the plot forwards and they have little development of their own.

Despite this, ‘Building the Wall’ is an intensely thought-provoking play, that fearlessly addresses the concerns of the Trump-era presidency with chilling historical references – a warning that must be heeded internationally. It is a brazenly political play that succeeds in delivering a message that needs to be heard. Whilst the characters are at points reduced to narrative vehicles, Griffin and White deliver competent and convincing performances, and the production is slick and well-done.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Mark Douet


Building the Wall

Park Theatre until 2nd June


Previously reviewed at this venue
A Princess Undone | ★★★ | February 2018
Vincent River | ★★★★ | March 2018
Pressure | ★★★★ | April 2018


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Review of Thebes Land – 5 Stars


Thebes Land

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 11th September 2017





“The ease and skill with which Alex Austin characterises and physicalises his roles is a truly stunning “



Finally getting tickets for Thebes Land, after frustratingly missing it’s run at the Arcola earlier this year, my expectations were incredibly high; I am overjoyed to tell you that the production certainly did not disappoint. Hearing rumours of a man imprisoned for patricide appearing live on-stage to perform his story in a 3 metre high cage seemed a fascinating, if slightly unusual, method of storytelling, but the minutiae of the production went much further than a back-page scandal ‘Making A Murderer’ documentary piece, deconstructing and analysing the layers of theatre and mythology surrounding the issues of on-stage representation.

Thebes thespyinthestalls.com

Thebes Land follows the development of a relationship between Martin Santos, a young man imprisoned for killing his father, and ’T’, a writer and actor creating a theatre piece around Martin’s story. Staged as a re-enactment of a series of interviews between ’T’ and Martin, taking place on a prison basketball court, we follow the creation of a play, ‘Thebes Land’, through which method we increasingly learn about the characters, and their relationship to the outside world. Myth, reality and meta theatrical commentary become a seductive and inseparable conglomerate, blurring the line between the real and the fictional, instead emphasising, above all, the human.

Thebes thespyinthestalls.com

The set is simple, but incredibly effective. At the centre of the space stands a 3 metre high cage, fitted with the necessary security cameras and basketball hoop. This space not only naturalistically echoes the location of the meetings between Martin and ’T’, the prison basketball court, but forces us to witness a life in isolation and seclusion, with the spatial and emotional relationship between the characters playing out behind, through and outside of the caged bars. The four cameras lining the space play live on four screens at the top of the theatre, emphasising the act of spectatorship similar to both theatre and prisons, and adding a filmic layer to the characters’ transactions.

Thebes thespyinthestalls.com

The performances are absolutely superb, and thoroughly convincing. A two-hander that managers to hold the audience in the palm of their hand for the entire run time, the beauty of this piece comes in the creation of connection between the two actors, leaving the audience doubtless that this is not ‘acting’ in the genteel sense of the word, but that we are witnessing an authentic truth of what it means to be a human. The ease and skill with which Alex Austin characterises and physicalises his roles is a truly stunning feat and the kind confidence of Trevor White is magnetic to watch.

Thebes thespyinthestalls.com

Thebes Land is genuinely one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen this year, and I thoroughly recommend buying a ticket, if you can possibly get your hands on one! Not only is it storytelling at its best, but it is a piece with exponential room for analysis, with layers of understanding and complexity that lends itself to contemplation and deconstruction. A think piece at its core, Thebes Land holds up to the light the most primal instinct of all humanity, the instinct to survive and defend one’s self. With an effervescent mix of comedy and dramatic tension, this unmissable piece brings forth questions of family, friendship, connection and fate.


Reviewed by Tasmine Airey

Photography by Alex Brenner




is at The Arcola Theatre until 7th October  

part of CASA Latin American Theatre Festival



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