by Conall Quinn .

White Bear Theatre 138 Kennington Park Road SE11 4DJ To 21 October 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7793 9193.
Review: Francis Grin 4 October.

Believing is seeing.
Henry is posted on a beach in Ireland during WWII, where he jots down his sightings and disposes of the many bodies which wash-up on shore. His only means of entertainment are a flare gun, salty cups of tea and the occasional visit from his unpleasant supervisor, Edward. Yet things take a turn for the better as Henry is accompanied by the eccentric Alice, who yearns to “run away from home”. Together, these characters relish in the slow decay of their realities as they escape into a world of absolute fantasy.

Playwright Conall Quinn carefully vacillates between the real and the imagined. We wonder, is this world the result of Henry’s imagination, or are in we in a realm which represents the collective desires of these characters? Either way, this play does not demand answers, rather it takes its audience on an intriguing surrealist journey.

Director Alice Malin captures some striking imagery on stage. Most haunting are the images of Alice and her dead boyfriend, Dumas, whose corpse she wheels around as though he were still alive. When Dumas is suddenly brought back to life, he moves just like any other living individual yet still occasionally jumps into the wheelbarrow with a smile plastered on his face as Alice wheels him off stage. This clashing image suddenly blends Dumas in both life and death, creating a disturbing effect.

Quinn’s surrealist world is further amplified by the production’s overall design, which meshes the real and the imagined to create a sense of limbo. While Ruth Hall’s design is incredibly realistic, with its beach chairs and shed – Tom Wickens’ lighting and Max Pappenheim’s sound design use violet tones and haunting echoes to remind the viewer of this world’s ever-changing realities.

Henry and Alice (wonderfully played by Gregory Finnegan and Clare Fraenkel) mesh both childlike innocence and adult sadness, making the characters very endearing to watch. Still, during this play I couldn’t help but wonder what was truly at stake for these characters, what were they fighting for?

Regardless, this production made for an intriguing evening at the White Bear Theatre.

Henry: Gregory Finnegan.
Alice: Clare Fraenkel.
Dumas: Paul Hayward.
Schimmelfennig: Dominic Ridley.
Manus the Wise: Richard Stoker.
Edward: Damien Tracey.
Airman: Anthony Pinnick/William Towler/ Tom Graysham.

Director: Alice Malin.
Designer: Ruth Hall.
Lighting: Tom Wickens.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.

2012-10-12 00:08:52

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