by Bryony Lavery.
Mercury Studio Balkerne Gate CO1 1PT To 2 October 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat 25, 30 Sept 2.45pm.
Runs 55min No interval.
TICKETS: 01206 573948.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 September.
Piece that’s a hostage to its production and playing-space.
They ought to be happy, Todd and Kali, in their new home. But happiness is as insubstantial as Amy Yardley’s set, in which a mortuary table serves for kitchen surface and cupboard, while all else is reduced to a polythene-translucent column and blank surrounds. If that’s a designer’s manifestation of the home, it reflects their lives with the inner serpents they bring here.
Janice Dunn’s Colchester studio revival adds a ghostly feel, with the sinister innocence of children’s disembodied voices seeming to emerge ghostlike from closed spaces, worrying away at Todd. There’s a hint of dissatisfaction about Kali from Todd’s mother, but it’s nothing to the emergence of Kali’s jealousy with its developing sense of violence.
Stockholm was written for physical theatre group Frantic Assembly. Colchester’s stage hardly provides space enough for much to be frantic here – it’s telling the original production ran twenty minutes longer than this revival. That’s a significant amount given the lengths concerned. The production doesn’t attain a fitting balance between words and movement; it seems earth-bound by words without the developed movement the original director-choreographers apparently provided.
This makes it something less, something it was never intended to be; a script with several awkwardly inserted movement sections, rather than a free-flow of words and physicality. Still, Clare Humphrey and Marshall Griffin work well within the confines of studio and production.
Her lithe mercurial mind and movement contrasts his stolid, dependable yet less imaginative manner. Both do all they can without being able to disguise that the verbal script is only a part of the story, and that there’s much more to be told than emerges here.
If it’s never resolved whether this Stockholm is an ideal place, never reached, or a syndrome – the famous one where power corrupts by persuading hostages to side with their kidnappers – that might be part of Lavery’s point. But it comes dangerously close to seeming yet another unhappy middle-class marriage play spiced up by a different form of presentation. Especially without the theatrical flair to develop the basic dramatic situation, in a space where visual suggestion seems less than powerful.
Kali: Clare Humphrey.
Todd: Marshall Griffin.
Voices: Miranda Bell, Roger Delves-Broughton, Dee Evans, Chris Murray, Vicky-Louise Smith, Elvin Talbot.
Children’s Voices: Romilly Blacker, Joshua Lee.
Director: Janice Dunn.
Designer: Amy Yardley.
Lighting: Christine Piper.
Sound: Chris Murray.