by Ana Maria Bamberger .
White Bear Theatre 138 Kennington Park Road SE11 4DJ To 11 November 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Sunday at 6pm.
Runs 1hr 20min .
TICKETS: 020 7793 9193 .
Review: Francis Grin 8 November.
An intriguing exploration of the mind.
Are we always aware of what’s haunting us? Is it a near death experience, a failed marriage, the loss of a loved one – or something more subtle, something unexpected, which quietly picks at our subconscious? In Belvedere, successful playwright Anton voluntarily checks into a psychiatric hospital where he writes his play and contemplates treatment. From time to time, he experiences hallucinations as a woman from his past visits him. Although Anton initially fails to recognize her, he eventually remembers she was the innocent love affair which ended all too soon.
Playwright Ana-Maria Bamberger poignantly explores complex questions about human psychology through this seemingly simple story, not only questioning the ability to perceive ‘trauma’ in the mind, but also examining our willingness to accept and linger in our own ‘psychological instability’. Anton, excellently played by Robert Gwyn Davin, captures a man who has almost become at ease with the dysfunction of his mind as he comfortably sits with cigarette and cross-word puzzle, an image which is mirrored in both the beginning and end of the play, revealing the disturbingly circular state of his psychosis.
Emily Harwood’s design further stimulates this setting’s ambiguous nature as the space is covered with segments of cross-word puzzles and blocks which can be moved and transformed at anytime. This world is both a mental institution as well as a physical portrait of Anton’s transformative, disorienting mind. Although seemingly bare at the start of the play, the potential in this space is endless as the simple movement of a few blocks reveals a small pond centre stage, where Anton and the woman, Stephanie, share their first date.
Director Genevieve Girling injects this abstract story with a sense of humanity. Anton is not depicted as a stereotypical mental patient and his world is closer to us than we’d expect, as it contains familiar moments of innocence and regret that any audience member can relate to. My only concern is, I can’t help but desire more information about who Anton is and what brings him here. In any case, Belvedere makes for an intriguing evening at The White Bear.
Anton: Robert Gwyn Davin.
Dr. Defor: Steve Winkenden.
Stephanie: Kathryn Worth.
Director: Genevieve Girling.
Designer: Emily Harwood.
Lighting: Sarah Cogan.
Costume: Cristina Soru.