NOTHING IS THE END OF THE WORLD (EXCEPT FOR THE END OF THE WORLD)
by Bekah Brunstetter.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 8 June 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 May.
Play and production pulse with life as comedy combines with serious point.
Imagine Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (and if you can’t because you haven’t read it, read it) re-treated with the vigour of an American High School movie and you could come close to the play Bekah Brunstetter, the Finborough’s resident alien (or American ‘Playwright in Residence’) wrote for, and developed from ideas by, a Manhattan performing arts High School.
No need to imagine further, thanks to Lucy Pattison and, again, and yet again, the Finborough Theatre, which searches-out a prairie-range of otherwise undetected drama past and present.
Brunstetter (who, as a Finborough-goer, I would gladly see become a long-term resident) has developed a High School comedy out of an experiment to place two non-human Artificial Intelligence students in classes. Not that classes are what the play’s about, more the corridor curriculum between-times.
The two try joining with others, but no amount of pre-programming prepares for the subtleties of human interaction, what stays unsaid, shrugged-off or partially hidden. Their logic-driven involvement keeps banging up against student interests and relationships, sexual identity in particular.
A lot of fun’s had (though much of it could come from human foreigners arriving with different ways). And never more than over drama student Danny, chasing gay-denial sports-type Kit, practising physical theatre postures, or reluctantly tearing-up a permission form that would give him airtime.
For the play has another point behind the surface action. From the start each human student is isolated in a spotlight and instructed to give personal information by an unseen authoritative voice. This is all being recorded and. the final consent signatures are the mask of democracy over an authoritarian experiment with undefined purposes. Brunstetter ultimately reshapes the sides from human versus AI to young versus institutional authority
Max Pappenheim’s firm-paced production, periodically energised by Angus MacRae’s score, gives character individuality room for expression. For a reason that become clear, Lisa Caruccio Came’s Olive develops a questioning look absent from Dan Crow as her AI companion. It may be unfair to others to mention Amanda Hootman’s Emma, but she has an unmistakeable concentration noticeable even among this fine and energetic cast.
Jessica: Skye Lourie.
Kit: Christopher Webster.
Esther: Sheena May.
Danny: Robin Crouch.
Emma: Amanda Hootman.
Lucy: Natalie Kent.
Olive: Lisa Caruccio Came.
Godfrey: Dan Crow.
Voice: Michael J Hayes.
Director: Max Pappenheim.
Designer/Costume: Susannah Henry.
Lighting: Charlie Lucas.
Composer: Angus MacRae.
Movement: Lucy Cullingford.
Assistant director: Jennifer Bakst.