by Bryony Lavery.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR To 24 May 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm no performance 5 May Mat Wed 2pm, Sat 3pm.
Captioned 19 May.
Runs: 1ht 15min No interval.
TICKETS 020 7328 1000.
Review: Carole Woddis 25 April.
Restores faith in theatre.
Are we still a Christian country? What do we still believe in? Belief is at the heart of Frantic Assembly and Bryony Lavery’s extraordinary and profoundly disturbing latest collaboration.
Lavery, a regular with Frantic Assembly is one of the few writers capable of entertaining with a good joke whilst exploring the darker reaches of human behaviour. The multi-award winning Frozen (2002) examined the mind of a psychopath, Last Easter (2007) terminal cancer.
The Believers picks up themes from both these plays. Coincidentally, in a week when issues of belief have become a central public debate, the discussion here is not only of how to believe and what to believe in but the very tenets of good and evil. A child is killed, the child of neighbours who have sought sanctuary during a flood – it emerges by the daughter of the couple apparently espousing deep religious faith. Redemption, in this scenario, is not on the horizon.
Lavery explores how the two couples interpret the event, at the same time posing two different approaches to life: one sceptical, the spiritual. The laughs are very much with the sceptics.
But Lavery is a past-mistress at over-turning pre-conceptions. Working backwards, she teases out with great delicacy what, in Scott Graham’s hands, becomes part psychological mystery thriller, part quasi-religious mystical séance.
Frantic Assembly, whose physical style of theatre has sharpened over its twenty year existence, have created an all-surrounding arena of eerie sound and startling light that disorientates and heightens suspicions and fears as the 75 minute drama unfolds.
Bathed in dark shadow – these actors are rarely in full light – at ground level, they move through flexible shapes, later they seem to hang above us and startlingly at one point, we even seem to look down on them. Spatial, visual perspectives shift all the time.
The message therefore is partly in the method. Unashamedly self-conscious, the company nonetheless continue to make urgent, hugely impressive work. You can’t come away from The Believers without feeling stunned, moved and questioning the virtues of scepticism as much as the leap of faith that becomes belief. Fascinating.
Joff: Christopher Colquhoun.
Maud: Penny Layden.
Ollie: Richard Mylan.
Marianne: Eileen Walsh.
Director/Choreographer: Scott Graham.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Andy Purves.
Sound: Carolyn Downing.
Voice coach: Michaela Kennen.
Associate director (tour): Cathal Cleary.
Associate movement: Eddie Kay.
Frantic Assembly and Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Curve Leicester. The Believers was first performed at The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth on Feb 21, 2014 and subsequently toured to Warwick Arts Centre and Leicester Curve.Curve .