Tag Archives: Tristan Bates Theatre

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

 

All the Little Lights

All the Little Lights

★★★★★

Tristan Bates Theatre

All the Little Lights

All the Little Lights

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 12th August 2019

★★★★★

 

“The brilliant writing and Hannah Calascione’s contained intensity in the direction are powerfully compelling”

 

Lisa was best at playing ‘All the Little Lights’. She and Joanne would look out at the lit-up windows of distant homes, and imagine the ‘ordinary’ lives of other people. Once close friends but suddenly torn apart, Joanne, with newcomer Amy in tow, has organised a birthday celebration for Lisa, by the railway track. A triangle of complicity tangled up in the net of child sexual exploitation, Lisa is determined to cling on to her fresh start, while Joanne must survive the only way she can – Amy becomes the victim. Jane Upton’s play opens our eyes to the innocence and vulnerability of children who are all around us; their need for security, protection and affirmation is both ignored by those who should give it and taken advantage of by those who shouldn’t. It is distressing to witness their acceptance of dreams and prospects which have been stolen and happiness reduced to a bag of chips in exchange for sex, but Upton balances this with the humour and fun of teenage friendship and youthful spirits.

The three actors embody different aspects and consequences of abuse, pulling us into their complex dynamics of familiarity, unease and fear, with strong, absorbing performances. Erin Mullen portrays the painful wariness of Lisa, frightened to show the closeness she feels towards Joanne for fear of falling into the trap again and prepared to adapt to her ‘nice’ new life if it gives her a second chance. Joanne, played by Lucy Mabbitt, is the manipulative bully who swings from smiles to anger, and brushes aside the lies she tells as she is found out. Looking milder than one might imagine, she nevertheless illustrates the brainwashing process of grooming and occasionally allows herself to slip into remembering comforting moments of the past. Emily Fairn captures a naïveté in Amy which nurtures our affection and care. She is instrumental to the comic element but also to the tragic.

More than just pointing out those who slip through the cracks of society, ‘All the Little Lights’ underlines the harm done in childhood which, in turn, produces perpetrators. Complete with original music (Eric Fabrizi) and visuals (Alex Hobbs) which accompany their fantasies and thrills, the naturalistic tone of the script has a screen drama feel to it and makes it immediately connectable. The brilliant writing and Hannah Calascione’s contained intensity in the direction are powerfully compelling. We want to save Amy, we will Lisa not to go back and we feel impotent when Joanne inflicts the same suffering as she has received. Hopefully, there will be growing awareness, as this production intends, but it means digging at the roots of an enormous and unfortunate cycle – hurt people hurt people.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Dave Buttle

 

Camden Fringe

All the Little Lights

 Tristan Bates Theatre
until 17th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
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

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