Lava, Nottingham Playhouse, 4****: Alan Geary


LAVA: James Fritz.


Nottingham Playhouse. (Full Details from Fifth Word)

Runs: 1h 30m: no interval: till 30th June.

Performance times: 7.45pm.

Review: Alan Geary: 19th June 2018.

Enigmatic and riveting.

North London has been hit by a small asteroid – small enough, that is, to be manageable. But it’s big enough to have killed a lot of people. And it’s caused Vin, who lives in the Midlands, to lose his voice. Seems his father was killed by the initial impact.

But in an evening of startling revelation and confession, nothing is what it at first appears. Even the set is enigmatic. It’s completely bare except for two huge O-shaped holes, one in the floor, one in the wall at the back. And what precisely is the title, Lava, meant to convey?

Sometimes there’s a chilling suggestion of, for instance, Animal Farm or 1984, with familiar items of street furniture disappearing overnight and no-one but Rach seeming to notice or care. There’s also a reminder, intentional or otherwise, of Grenfell Tower. How do we respond to another’s bereavement? In our society what expressions of grief are appropriate, and what not? Can grief and sympathy ever be truly authentic?

Performances are sharp and intense, especially Emma Pallant’s as Vin’s mother Vicky. The silent anguish underlying her spoken words is beautifully conveyed. But Ted Reilly as protagonist Vin, who hardly speaks at all, Safiyya Ingar as the lovely Rach, who loves him, and Fred Fergus as her self-centred and insensitive Jamie, are all first-rate.

Jamie is the main vehicle for the humour – the play is funny in a very black sense, though surely less hilarious than a few of the press-night audience seemed to find it.

When it comes to the playwright’s intended meaning, Lava is far more elusive than last year’s Wreck from the same company, Fifth Word. And in terms of plot and set it’s not up to the same standard. All the same it’s riveting stuff.

A compellingly intimate production staged in the Nottingham Playhouse’s upstairs Neville Room, Lava is directed by Angharad Jones.

Jamie: Fred Fergus.

Rach: Safiyya Ingar.

Vicky: Emma Pallant.

Vin: Ted Reilly.

Director: Angharad Jones.

Associate Director: Laura Ford.

Designer: Amy Jane Cook.

Lighting Designer: Alexandra Stafford.

Sound Designer: Dan Balfour.


ReviewsGate Copyright Protection