SILENT ECHO: Tobias Nicholls.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
Touring Details: Purple Dreams, www.purple-dreams.com
Runs: 1h 15m: one interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 5th April 2012.
Despite real problems it deserved a bigger audience.
Silent Echo, written and directed by Tobias Nicholls, is a touring production from Purple Dreams, Since no programme, not even a sheet of A4, was available on first night, full information – actors’ names etc – was not forthcoming.
Before the action starts we’re confronted with a stage, bare save for a huge picnic hamper plonked bang in the middle of it. A miserable-looking picnic – or some picnics; it’s not properly clear because the promotional material uses the singular – loom large in this play. The action starts with a kiss between a young couple, Matt and Kate. Implausibly, they’re on the picnic with another young man, Greg, and, it later turns out, another young woman, Eve.
For almost the entire first scene all we learn is that the men are rivals insofar as Kate was in a relationship with one but is now involved with the other. Eve is the sister of one and the girlfriend of the other. It’s not at all clear where it’s going even twenty minutes into the action.
Suddenly it emerges that at least one of the four is a murderous sociopath, and from then on things twist and turn. It’s a thriller, albeit the sort that’s not terribly thrilling: you want to know what’s going to happen, certainly, but that much is true of all narratives.
The problem isn’t actually the plot, which is serviceable, if a trifle clunking. The play suffers from poor projection from some of the actors – understandable given the Arts Theatre acoustics – but, more seriously, and to be brutally frank, from coarse acting. There’s too much mechanical queuing to unload lines. Kate in particular depends almost entirely on (probably) soap-inspired facial expressions – rolling eyes and puzzled looks and the sort of hand gestures and text delivery that go along with that school of acting. Only Greg, in the best performance of the evening, manages to stay completely soap free.
It was a depressingly small first-night turn-out for this play, which is a pity. Despite all the above, it deserved a bigger audience.
Cast list unavailable.
Director: Tobias Nicholls.