A trip to my usual musical haunt last night threw up a chance to watch an open rehearsal of a play I had heard lots about and been wanting to see, Another from the TS Theatre team who brought you #theorder* it was even more disturbing, and rather brilliant. So I wrote a review of it for The Ocelot.
I firmly subscribe to the school of thought that states art is meant to encourage a reaction, to say something and make a statement, to have a meaning. Anything else is just decoration surely? If this is true as I believe, then TS Theatre group have fulfilled that obligation with Choice, a simple but vicious little play that packs a hell of a punch and invites post performance discussion with a certain amount of apprehension not normally felt for an after show conversation.
The play is a simple appearing affair, featuring just two actors and two chairs on stage, and a handful of simple props. As is becoming the TS signature, the script is dark, nasty and challenging, genuinely causing discomfort in the audience as it tackles some heavy and unpleasant themes. The language is raw, and all the more shocking as it is delivered by the female character, skilfully played by Sarah Lewis, who has a job on her hands holding a conversation with a totally silent and masked protagonist (subtly played by writer Peter Hynds), having to make assumptions and answer her own increasingly desperate questions as she attempts to regain control of a situation that is spiralling out of hand.
But the real delicacy in the script is the clever circular structure, a pathway that takes you from the initial set up and denouement into a series of childhood flashback’s and then back to the beginning again as you run through the whole opening scenario for a second time, no less shocking despite knowing what is coming. However, this time you are armed with a sense of regret at the assumptions you made earlier and a greater understanding of who the masked man actually is and what he will do. Or perhaps do, as he is faced with the Choice of the title. The gradual uncovering of both central characters through the flashback is carefully handled, their backstory being teased out, not rushing the reveal of their true natures and how wrongly we have understood them in the first place.
Writer Peter Hynds likes to work with stories inspired by current affairs (see his most recent effort #theorder for more social commentary as theatre) and with this work takes a look at what could be a story from behind the scenes of the Operation Yewtree investigations, something that could go horribly wrong in the hands of a writer with a heavier hand than his. Fortunately, he just about nails it, leaving the audience sat in silence for a moment at the end as they try to come to terms with what they have witnessed. Powerful, gripping and deeply disturbing, this is a play that has put a future talent firmly on the map.
The performance took place on 5th October 2014 at The Victoria in Swindon.
*my #theorder review can be found here: https://gigmonkeyblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/gig-monkey-goes-to-the-theatre/