Tag Archives: Tristan Bates Theatre

Sorry Did I Wake You
★★★★

Tristan Bates Theatre

Sorry Did I Wake You

Sorry Did I Wake You

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 3rd July 2019

★★★★

 

“it feels intimate in the small playing space but doesn’t shy away from asking big questions”

 

On arrival, the audience walks into a seemingly abandoned empty black box studio – not an actor or prop in sight. We were soon joined by a masked figure that looks like a bear (Zoë Dunn) who unpacks all of the props and costumes for the performance.

Each side of the stage is lit in different colours, one for each of the two sisters Bea (Nina Georgieff) and Annie (Beth Collins). They enter, apparently unaware of the presence of the bear watching in the corner. Immediately, the atmosphere is uneasy – the omnipresent bear, acknowledged occasionally but never discussed.

Sorry Did I Wake You is a tale of two halves. The first, explores the sisters’ relationship as they navigate how to deal with distance as Annie goes to university. This is represented by slick synchronised movement sequences that don’t interfere with the flow of the text. Georgieff stands out in her physicality, particularly when playing the younger version of Bea. The pair’s relationship feels natural and at no points false, which is a testament to the skill of the actors who play the sisters through a range of ages.

The second part of the story, stems from the reveal of great loss. The atmosphere, again, shifts as we see Annie attempt to regain a sense of the world. This section is led by Collins, who subtly but poignantly displays the visceral effects trauma can have on the body. It is clear that the piece has strong direction (Emma Jude Harris) as the movement here is incredibly powerful, showing the repercussions of bad news on an individual. The lighting predominantly used is a single wash light that illuminates the small playing space, but at this point it is so dim that you can barely see the actors. These details are testament to the piece’s multi-sensory exploration of grief.

This whirlwind play takes audiences through a range of emotions, time periods and memories. It feels intimate in the small playing space but doesn’t shy away from asking big questions. The bare stage is scattered with costumes that suggest a web of the entangled memories of the two girls. From the first moment, we are left uneasy at the glaring presence of the unexplained bear. More could have been done with the design of the bear mask to improve the clarity of its presence. However, in this open exploration of loss, design and music elements took the backseat. The actors’ movement skills and delivery take centre stage.

As an audience, we are not given definitive answers but are left to piece together information that is revealed to us in fits and starts. What is at the centre of this innovative play is movement, both physically but also in its narrative. The play may be no picnic, but the bear and the two girls help us to understand the infinite sadness true of loss.

 

Reviewed by Emily Morris

Photography by Hugo Bainbridge

 


Sorry Did I Wake You

Tristan Bates Theatre until 7th July

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | November 2018
Me & My Left Ball | ★★★★ | January 2019
Nuns | ★★★ | January 2019
Classified | ★★★½ | March 2019
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019
The Luncheon | ★★★ | June 2019
To Drone In The Rain | ★★ | June 2019

 

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To Drone in the Rain
★★

Tristan Bates Theatre

To Drone in the Rain

To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 11th June 2019

★★

 

“a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short”

 

To actually drone in the rain is to stand outside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. To perform To Drone in The Rain is to stand inside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. The play, written by Michael Ellis and directed by Lorenzo Peter Mason, is like a flat Black Mirror episode for the stage: a young man (Tom – Michael Benbaruk) with extreme social anxiety is being cared for by Drone Girl (Nell Hardy) and it only gets darker from there …

Well, not exactly. The production stands on some interesting themes which would certainly be likely to resonate with a typical London audience. Drone Girl isn’t just supporting Tom, she is infantilising him. Drone Girl agonises at length about the morality of this decision as Tom descends into total helplessness shouting ‘change my diaper’ by the end. Through their characters, the writer and director worry aloud about society’s over-reliance on technology and particularly on Artificial Intelligence. But that dependence is so outright and divorced from contemporary dependence on mobile phones, that it always feels far away rather than close in. Drone Girl is tempted by Drone Boy (Lino Facioli) to run away from this life of enabling human helplessness and transcend her human shackle. Drone Girl’s struggle to decide whether or not to leave seems to be the main story arc yet mostly expresses itself in drawn-out on-stage agonising and arguing rather than journey, change or development.

Where the script and direction leave a lot to be desired, the acting also fails to light up the circuit boards. The actors had precious little to work with in terms of tension – the stakes were invariably very low – but the performances were mostly flat and without connectivity or personality. Thigh slapping, door slamming and pained looks replaced most of the human connection. If this was deliberate, to symbolise the robots of the show, then the collateral damage was an audience’s desire to actually care about the characters.

Nicole Figini’s set really took centre stage. Looking like an Ikea showroom it set the piece in a world inhabited only by professional Hikikomoris. The white walls and plain furniture were reminiscent of the specific Black Mirror episode Five Million Merits and served the storyline well. The solid audio-visual work and good lighting design break up and structure the moody rants on stage.

Taken together, the show is a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short. The politics are blurted out by characters – climate change, social alienation, ‘the bees are dying’ – and the themes aren’t explored or developed. Instead, the characters perform a moody teenage hurley burley that doesn’t do justice to the high-quality production values and intimate venue.

 

Reviewed by William Nash

 


To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre until 15th June

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | November 2018
Me & My Left Ball | ★★★★ | January 2019
Nuns | ★★★ | January 2019
Classified | ★★★½ | March 2019
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019

 

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