Courtney Rose Brown
The show follows Taylor (Milo Cawthorne), a recent widower and his attempts to overcome loneliness with the search of love. Think Hugh Grant in a standard ‘chick flick’ for the type of sympathy we’re meant to feel. However, Taylor doesn’t quite hit this charm, so his awkwardness just becomes uncomfortable. His failing attempts to chat up girls and awkward manoeuvring of multiple conversations makes us cringe. There is no buy in to his character, nor does he undertake significant growth, making it hard for one to invest in the 70 minute show.
The script feels half-finished with loose references to the environment, mostly restricted to Taylor’s knowledge about different types of plastic. The majority of the play includes expository details, which could have been greatly reduced. An example of this is the stag-do events; a line ‘not wanting to bring children into the world, because we’ve already fucked it up enough’ is thrown in to make a direct reference to the environment, which isn’t the focus. Another issue I take with this scene is the intention behind the women performing as hypermasculine men during is unclear. I wonder why they did not explore more female journeys considering the majority of the cast is female.
The actors also seem not to know their lines, stumbling over each other’s words. Transitions are clunky and the manipulation of props appear as if they are a late addition, with many being ‘one-trick wonders’ rather than serving multiple purposes, one example of this is the cardboard cutout of text messages.
The set is majestical (Trubridge’s design) and is on a standard far higher in quality in comparison to the other components to the production. Thin sheets of plastic material hang from the ceiling to the floor along the back of the stage; it makes me think of the ocean, and is calming but also a subtle reminder of plastic as a wasted item. A blue line of lights rope off the bottom of the sheets. Above the audience hangs a giant fishing net extending across the length of the seating block. Bundles of plastic bags sit on top. Used only once, it is definitely underutilised, I would have loved to have seen this have more of a physical interaction with the audience, to have perhaps played on the environmental theme more.
Puppetry (Blake) has a small moment in the limelight adding beauty but no depth. Underwater creatures are sculptured together with recyclable materials, with plastic bags as a focal point of the design and are stunning with their incorporation of lights.
The lighting design (Jane Hakaraia) has moments of beauty. My favourite state is the bleeding of red light from the glass dome above down the walls. The actors struggle to find their light throughout the performance, perhaps because the states are too dim in moments and opening night nerves caused delays in operation.
The use of guitar and female voices humming creates a surreal atmosphere. I would love to see this expanded on, perhaps with the incorporation of more movement. The puppetry-like movements and mirroring between Taylor and his wife is beautiful and captivating. The rest of the show needs to match this because it feels as if the show starts to end where it should have begun. The storm is a pivotal moment in the piece where the design elements erupt into a whirlwind of electrifying promise, which feels very separate to the rest of the show. However, the beauty of the design fails to bring in the darkness of pollution and climate change from human interaction as nothing transforms from the pristine white/ transparency of the materials.
It is exciting to see such dedication to design elements in a show. To see some truly inspirational work The Rime of the Modern Mariner is a great watch for technical skill. Bearing in mind, this was the preview of the performance and I’m sure nerves will soon settle. Now, in front of an audience the cast have the room to play, cues can be tightened and more energy can flow through the performance. I’m sure it will be a show that continues to grow and I would be excited to see where it develops at the end of its season which ends on the 26th of November.