by Bryony Lavery.
Everyman Theatre Liverpool 12-15 May.
7.30pm Mat Sat 2pm.
TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
then Tramway Glasgow 19-23 May 2010.
Wed-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3501.
This production, with a partly different cast, was reviewed by Carole Woddis at the Young Vic in April and is in Reviewsgate’s Archive.
Runs 1hr 35min no interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 May at Warwick Arts Centre Studio.
All aboard – but for a journey of limited scope.
What do you do when you can’t do anything? Except nothing. That’s the position of this British submarine crew in the Barents Sea, spying on a state-of-the-military-art Russian sub. The Russians were neither our enemies nor our friends. And when their submarine got stuck, its crew alive inside, the British couldn’t help or they would have caused a diplomatic ruckus for being there at all.
It’s a situation ripe for paperback fiction, with film rights swiftly following. Instead, here’s an intimate experience which puts a small audience in the British vessel – or a 3D, tube map-like version of it – as life moves around them. Catching much of the action through bars, in cramped quarters, is part of the point.
These men do their jobs, deploying spare energy in laddish jokes. One shades into seriousness at news from home. Another storyline goes the opposite way, with a seedily bathetic end to something initially seeming serious. Mainly, though, life goes on, the Commander (the sole part identified by rank rather than name, for he exists apart from other ranks) enforcing discipline while the men joke around, a series of Russian dolls set-out like a charm against the Russian reality out there.
The sub’s a place where routine is vital. Yet much of the dialogue involved in routine procedures is invested with overmuch consciousness by actors trying to inject individuality into them. These are words and phrases chucked out several times daily to confirm correct operational behaviour, not things being thought out, or about.
Even the response to the great thud of surprise contact, to awareness of the Kursk’s situation, has to be handled within procedure. People continue moving between various stations. Excitement can’t be afforded, especially in an emergency. All this rings true. So does the horseplay and the concentration on computer screens – some from actors, some from the technical crew inserted, like the audience, into the setting. But there’s only a limited sense of people who’ve lived this nautical life, for whom it’s habit, whatever their private interests. It makes for an intriguing theatrical experience rather than a dramatically satisfying one.
Donnie Black: Ian Ashpitel.
Casanova Ken: Keir Charles.
New Dad Mike: Tom Espiner.
Donnie Mac: Jonah Russell.
Commander: Laurence Mitchell.
Voices: Amanda Laurence, Victoria Moseley, Hannah Ringham, Maria Lozlovskaya, Maly Theatre company.
Directors: Mark Espiner, Dan Jones.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Hansjörg Schmidt.
Sound: Dan Jones.