GRAVITY: Arzhang Luke Pezman
Runs: 90m, no interval
Birmingham Rep at mac, Birmingham, then touring
Review: Rod Dungate 28 02 12
Too heavy for lift-off
The gloom of EastEnders hangs heavy over GRAVITY, and, like the soap, the dialogue, while adequate, never rises above the mundane.
David is a school teacher, he wants to be good, very nearly (but not quite) is good. He imagines the unimaginable forces within the universe while struggling to ignite the imaginations of a Year 10 class in science lessons. With unsympathetic forces at work within his school – unresponsive students, a well-meaning but idiotic counsellor cum manager – David is offered little support, so despite his wish to impart knowledge, he fails. When his one sympathetic (and keen) student turns against him, the camel’s back is finally broken. Everyone loses and there is not even the faintest light glimmering at the end of a tunnel.
The essential problem with the script is that the play is all on the surface. It offers nothing to challenge, surprise, excite, nor entertain. The experience is ephemeral; if we want to keep theatre alive, if we want people to leave the comfort of their armchairs to get the live experience, we must offer them something richer than they can get on the television in their regular, non-challenging, 30 minute top-ups.
Nigel Hastings manfully breathes life into the beleaguered school-teacher, David, and Imogen Slaughter achieves an ironically amusing portrayal of the two-dimensional manager, Kathy.
Ashley Hunter comes off best in the role of the tortured student, Kyle. Boris Mitkov and Rebecca Louden struggle to breathe reality into the two other pupils Reece and Chantay, but ultimately the pupils remain refugees from the Catherine Tate Show.
David: Nigel Hastings
Kathy: Imogen Slaughter
Kyle: Ashley Hunter
Chantay: Rebecca Louden
Boris Mitkov: Reece
Director: Rae McKen
Designer: Fabrice Serafino
Lighting Designer: Simon Bond
Composer and Sound Designer: Edward Lewis