August 22nd – 27th (17.20)
I always find it refreshing when productions dare to take on the big questions of life, death, the universe and everything. There is far too much fear these days of being pretentious or over worthy. Personally I don’t see what’s wrong with a little bit of pretentiousness, at least it shows you’re trying. And is worthiness not just an attempt, no matter how deluded, to make the world a better place? In the present climate surely that can’t be the worst idea. So when I discovered this play was indeed going to attempt to answer some of those big questions I was encouraged. Hoping very much it wouldn’t be some kind of religious doctrine but, thankfully, it wasn’t.
If the piece fell into any category of theological thought I would say it was probably Gnosticism. It begins with a man discovering he’s dead. Not the most original premise but at least we knew it right at the beginning and it wasn’t left until the end as an all too common twist. He is told this by a disembodied voice who claims to be God (among other names). From the outset it is clear this is an imperfect God who was tricked into this position by his predecessor. So far, so Gnostic. From there we explore through exerts of Great Expectations and Edgar Allen Poe, notions of choice. In particularly the ability of man to rise above his destiny and escape the inevitability of death. I found the Dickens and Poe references a little bit clunky but they did never the less illustrate the points made by the production adequately enough. Particularly when you consider that the lead role was allegedly a great writer.
By the end of the play it was still a little unclear of what the point was they were trying to make, probably asking more questions than they answered. But then again shouldn’t be the case with all good philosophical drama? And whatever points they were trying to make were all illustrated imaginatively with some very creative and minimal set design. Largely relying on computer projections onto cloth. A common device but, despite the small budget, one of the most inventive uses of this device I have seen to date. So all in all a highly imaginative and thought provoking piece. Not for those of you afraid of thinking maybe. But for those of you afraid of thinking you’ll always have Donald Trump and lighter gas. For the rest of us please support plays like this. In a world where superficiality is seen as an asset we need them. As long as shows like “Naked Attraction” exist on our telly boxes plays like “The Concept” remain essential.
Review by Steven Vickers