Tag Archives: Zoe Guzy-Sprague

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

 

The Burning

★★★

Pleasance Courtyard

The Burning

The Burning

Pleasance Courtyard

Reviewed – 14th August 2019

★★★

 

“had such potential but the jumping narrative resulted in an unclear message”

 

This all-female cast took us on a journey, jumping through huge swaths of history to examine the allegations of witchcraft against women. But maybe they bit off more than they could chew by switching between the historical testimonies of the victims and the story of a modern woman, dealing with the death of her mother.

Incognito Theatre Company’s production has been highly anticipated since the success of their last production ‘Tobacco Road’. However, ‘The Burning’ didn’t quite hit the mark that I expected. The ideas shown are intriguing and offer interesting new insights into a topic that can often be summarised by showing voiceless victims of extreme injustice. ‘The Burning’ also presents a novel slant on the printing press as a platform for men to create and implement legislation against women.

The ensemble (Keturah Chambers, Jennie Eggleton, Kimberley Hallam, Phoebe Parker) were skilled in their portrayal of various roles. They used quick costume changes to switch between characters. This was accompanied by slightly questionable accents, that were distracting. It would have been more effective for them to play to their strengths by marking different people by changing their physicality. The movement direction (Ingrid McKinnon and Roberta Zuric) used within the piece was strong and is something that could definitely be utilised more. The strongest moments were when the actors repeated ritualised moves, reminiscent of conjuring.

A key feature of this production was the use of live and recorded sound. Vocal looping of eerie sound effects created a thick and tense atmospheric. This was complemented by design elements (Helena Bonner) such as the repeated use of dry ice and red and blue wash lights. The set was fairly simple as the actors used three wooden blocks to create change within the scenes. In general, the handling of props was well rehearsed and slick.

Where the production fell flat was its structure. The piece went between two main story strands: that of the legacy of different witch trials and that of a modern day woman discovering these stories. The link between the two narratives became entangled in a way that felt forced and disjointed. This let the show down, as the actors were committed and clearly highly competent. This piece had such potential but the jumping narrative resulted in an unclear message. The cast forcefully delivered a final call to action at the end but, as audience members, we were left unsure as to what we were being asked to rally for or against.

 

Reviewed by Emily Morris

Photography by Marko Marsenic

 


The Burning

Pleasance Courtyard until 26th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019

 

 

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